Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Mother’s Day: Of love, loss & legacies May 14, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I printed this message inside a handmade Mother’s Day card for my mom back in elementary school. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

I’VE WRITTEN OFTEN about my mom, the life she lived, the legacies of kindness, compassion and faith she left. But what about about you and your mom?

On this Mother’s Day, I invite you to share about your mom. What do you hold dear? What was she like? What did she pass along to you? Who was she, in addition to being your mother?

I don’t know what my children would write if asked those questions. But I hope they would describe me as loving, caring, compassionate, kind and supportive. Creative, too. I’ve tried to follow my mom’s example. And, even though my maternal grandmother died shortly after I was born, I’ve heard that Josephine was a kind and gentle soul. Just like my mom.

I recognize that Mother’s Day can be difficult, especially if you’ve recently lost your mom. Like my friend Gretchen. Grief rises anew in a day focused on mothers. To lose a mom is a profound loss, whether that occurred a month ago or 20 years ago. Mother and child share a bond unlike any other, which intensifies the depth of grief.

A page in an altered book my friend Kathleen created for me. That’s my mom on the left counting jars of homemade horseradish. That’s me with my clown birthday cake, which Mom made for my third birthday. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

Yet, to grieve is to recognize that we have loved. I consider all the ways my mom loved me. Though she didn’t tell me she loved me or even hug me when I was growing up (that would come later), I felt and saw her love. Her love showed in homemade bread and peanut butter oatmeal bars. Her love showed in the animal-shaped birthday cakes she made for my five siblings and me. Her loved showed in clothes washed in a Maytag wringer washer. Her love showed in quarts of fruits and vegetables lining planks in a dirt-floored cellar. Her love showed in clothing stitched from flour sacks. Her love showed in poring through booklets of house designs from the lumberyard, always believing that some day she would move into a new house. One with a bathroom and a shower to replace a galvanized tub set on the kitchen floor and a makeshift shower of garden hose strung through an open porch window. One with more than three cramped bedrooms. One with a furnace rather than an oil-burning stove. One with windows that didn’t rattle in the winter prairie wind.

The old woodframe farmhouse where I lived the first 11 years of my life with our new house in the background. That’s my sister Lanae posing on the porch steps.

Mom taught me to hold hope. She finally got her new house in 1967, the year my youngest brother, her final child, was born.

On this Mother’s Day, let’s honor our moms—those selfless, wonderful women who raised us as best they could. Those women who carried us, physically and emotionally, who want (ed) the best for us. Being a mother requires strength, energy and so much more, but, most of all, unconditional love.

Happy Mother’s Day, if you’re a mom! And if you are missing your mom, let’s celebrate her, too.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling