By Greg Price
My recent trip to Nanaimo, British Columbia gave me some more than usual introspection about family from one simple question my uncle gave me while visiting my parents’ humble abode before we all broke bread together with extended family.
“So what did you get your mother for Mother’s Day?” my mother’s youngest brother said to me.
I felt bad at first, because as far as commerce went, I really did not purchase my mother anything because a heart-felt card and a lotto ticket where I hoped my mother would win and then be able to buy herself many different things.
But then I thought to myself, wait a minute… then I replied “I flew out here a province over to visit my mother personally for Mother’s Day.” My uncle gave a sly smile and I really do not know if he found that answer satisfying, but nevertheless I did.
Mother’s Day shouldn’t be a competition of who loves their mother more judging by the the final bill of one’s present.
Now before those who bought a very nice present or thoughtful gift are thinking I’m dismissing their efforts, put away the pitchforks and torches, because I’m not. I am just saying that Mother’s Day needs to go past just the Hallmark moment we find on a weekend every May. Not all of us have had a childhood out of a Norman Rockwell painting, but as the famous line by Russell Crowe in the movie ‘3:10 to Yuma’ goes… ‘even bad men love their mamas.’
At times we become so fixed on one day in May that we forget the 364 other days in the person who gave birth to us. The familiarity we have with someone who has been there with us since the start of our existence has a way for us taking that for granted some times.
And given that there are many out there who have lost their mothers too soon or never got to know them perhaps through abandonment or adoption… we shouldn’t, given there are many that would trade anything for one more moment with their mothers.
Gifts are nice on Mother’s Day, but time is even more precious. The money used to purchase a gift can be replaced, the time spent cannot, so choose it wisely. We are so conditioned to work ourselves to exhaustion in the pursuit of material things of comfort, we have, at times, forgotten the simple comforts of time spent with loved ones.
My trip to Nanaimo was anything but go-go-go. You rarely saw me changing from my PJ bottoms and T-shirt until 11 a.m. or noon at the earliest. I simply sipped on my morning coffee and visited with my parents. We quizzed each other with what was happening with each other’s lives, talked a little politics. My Italian mother of course had planned feats out to the littlest detail and of course pried into my personal love life (news flash mom, there isn’t one at the moment). I still chuckle to this day that my mother can give the most delicious feast anyone has ever tasted and still overanalyze one small detail of the meal that she could have done better as a culinary perfectionist.
We travelled together part way down the island to do an impromptu dinner with my cousin who just happened to be at a conference in Victoria with his wife. There was another visit to Errington to visit a whole slew of cousins and my uncle and aunt.
Along with some nature hikes, I made my regular jaunt down to the Nanaimo waterfront to take in the many ships, the breeze off the water and smell of the ocean, the various buskers, unique shops and unique vibe overall.
Unless some huge windfall comes my way, I’m likely to be working poor for the rest of my life. But to tell you the truth, as I looked out on the ocean on my park bench at that very moment, I couldn’t have been happier in my self realization. We all at times complain about the things we don’t have and forget about the things we do. I have a family I very much care about and friends both old and new that I treasure and know they would have my back just as much as I have with theirs. The laughter, the warmth, the honesty and tears all shared in good times and bad have made some memorable memories with both family and friends.
Have they been all rays of sunshine?
Of course not, anyone you truly care for and feel comfortable around will mean an argument or a fight or two, but again, that is where the honesty comes in.
Perhaps it’s easier for someone from a lower socio-economic standing to say this, but as that trip to the west coast confirmed for me…I hope people see my time as opposed to my money as being more valuable to them.
For when it comes time to meet my maker, I hope I am remembered by the smiles I left behind and not the possessions.