Happy Mother’s Day–to all my mothers

My mom, pretty on her wedding day, wearing a Victorian dress in a historic Victorian house in downtown Grand Rapids. I’m the little girl in front of her–no, I don’t know what’s wrong with my face.

A strange thing happens when you lose your mother at a young age: you try to find mothers the rest of your life.

And you do. However long-lasting or short-lived, you find female relatives, friends and coworkers and you take from them: wisdom, guidance, approval, hope.

I lost my mother when I was 11. In her absence, many have mothered me since then. And thanks to them, I’m doing pretty well. I went to college, I worked hard and I chose my friends carefully. I take today to offer my sincere gratitude to them, and I hope they’re proud of me.

I thank the great-aunt who took me in when I was miserable and 15. She gave me a place to live, guidance, confidence and a semblance of a normal teenage life.

I thank my youngest aunt, who, even at thirtysomething will always be 25 to me. I’m thankful for our long talks about life and love. And when she dishes out that wicked sense of humor, I’m reminded of my mom.

I thank my godmother, my aunt who was my mom’s best friend. She remains the closest portal to my mother and I know I can ask her anything about what my mom was like.

I thank my boyfriend’s mother for her support, her ceaseless sense of calm and her delightful humor. I think she and my mom would have been fast friends.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. A motherless daughter knows that all too well. Make sure to take the time to thank not just your mom today, but all those mom-like women in your life too.

Me with two aunts (and an ill-conceived nosering. We all did stupid things when we were 20, right?)

–By Tara Cavanaugh

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