Yesterday was probably the worst day I’ve experienced since my mom’s passing. I anticipated it as such but didn’t expect that she would be on my mind— every single moment of the day.
My mom loved Mother’s Day— but hated when I sent her cut flowers. It was a waste of money she would tell me, adding that she didn’t need flowers to feel special.
“But if you insist, get me a potted plant since it will live longer and I can replant it,” she’d add with a wink. She really did love the flowers, but didn’t want me “wasting” my money on them.
Looking back and trying to turn sadness into something positive, I spent Mother’s Day recalling the wonderful times I had with my mom.
The summers in Greece with my grandparents— always insisting that we get out of school a few days early to get the lower fares that went up in June.
The Wednesday night Greek dance classes. The lessons of fasting every year during lent. The scolding of my brother and I when we chatted in Church, or played with bread at the dinner table and Mae bread balls and threw them at each other.
Bread is from Christ, she would say, and it’s a sin to disrespect bread.
As I grew older I knew there wasn’t a commandment that stated “Thou Shall Not Play With Bread at the Dinner Table” but I realized it was her way of teaching me respect.
Looking back, I think the greatest gift my mom gave me, however, was putting me in the white skirt— aka the foustanella— when I was a toddler.
Of course I don’t mean this literally— but more like what that skirt represented to me and why my mom insisted I wear it year after during Greek festivals at church and March 25th performances.
I dreaded that skirt and was always terrified that some of my “American friends” would stumble across our Greek Festival and see me wearing it.
But as I grew older, and especially now, I realized that the skirt represented the values and ideals that my mom instilled in me that came with the “responsibility” of being Greek.
Because my mom always reminded me that it was a responsibility and a burden that we carried on our shoulders— to uphold the values of our heritage, to maintain our ancient traditions and to be faithful Greek Orthodox Christians.
From as young as I can remember, she taught me the meaning of humanity and treating all people— black, white, gay, straight, Republican or Democrat— all equally.
She instilled in me the significance of service and philanthropy and always reminded me that someone out there didn’t have the Christmas holidays and presents that I had… that many young kids my age didn’t have the abundance that I had.
Most importantly my mom taught me that I should treat others how I wanted to be treated. Zero judgement— ever.
Rest In Peace mom and Happy Mother’s Day. And thank you for putting me in that white skirt.
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