Mother’s Day and Father’s Day … Special occasions honoring the two special people whose love and pride and support have embraced you throughout your life, and yet we celebrate their occasions in such very different ways.
Mother’s Day – We take Mom out to eat at her favorite restaurant so she doesn’t have to cook. (Not that a lot of moms are still cooking these days, but still.) Everyone shows up and the whole family sits around the table laughing and talking, and the bill is discreetly picked up at the end. And as you prepare to go your separate ways in the parking lot, everyone hugs and Mom cries.
Father’s Day – Dad stands at the grill and flips burgers as grandkids and dogs chase one another around his legs. Everyone shows up again, but while they’re there, they ask Dad if he can look under the hood of the car to figure out what’s making that funny sound. And by the way, Dad bought the ground beef for the burgers. When it’s over, you toss a casual wave over your shoulder and Dad sort of flaps a hand back in your direction as he is busy scraping grease from the rack on the grill.
Mother’s Day – Mom is showered with gifts of flowers and candy – her favorite kinds of both. There is a card, decorated with pastel blossoms and engraved with sentimental messages of appreciation for a mother’s love, her sacrifices and support, signed with a heartfelt “I love you, Mom” and lots of X’s and O’s. And Mom cries and puts the card up on the mantel and you know it will stay there for a month, and then will go into the dresser drawer where she keeps “special things,” perhaps even into the bundle of cards and letters tied with a faded satin ribbon.
Father’s Day – Another tie, or a tool if he’s lucky, even though it’s probably something he already has, but nobody is allowed to touch The Tool Box so who really knows. Anyway, the guy at the hardware store said Dad would love it so that’s good enough for you. If there is a card – the odds are not good – it’s got some kind of cartoon on the front and a funny verse inside, and there is a scrawled signature that implies it was signed while driving from the drug store where the card was just bought, on the way to the cookout where Dad is already heating up the coals. Dad says “thanks” and sets the gift aside, either to go into the closet never to be seen again, or driven back to the hardware store and exchanged for something he really needs. He scans the card – if he even gets one – so quickly, you’re not even sure he read it, but then again, the burgers are sizzling and he needs to check on the propane level.
Mother’s Day – The whole family dresses up and goes to church, lining up beside Mom in the pew like chicks crowding next to a proud mother hen. There is a corsage, maybe two, and although you don’t remember what the preacher said, you’ll never forget the feeling that swelled up in your heart when you caught a glimpse of your mother slipping a handkerchief from her purse to dab tears from her eyes, and seeing her cry with joy makes you want to cry too.
Father’s Day – Maybe you go, maybe you don’t, and khakis are fine, right? or maybe even jeans. Dad stares straight ahead during the sermon and you snicker and trade elbow jabs with your siblings just like you did when you were kids, whispering that Dad is just trying not to fall asleep and is probably thinking about whether he needs to pick up another bag of charcoal on the way home from church. And later, when you’re standing around the backyard eating your second hamburger, your brother is telling your sister about this and you’re all laughing so hard that you cry.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – Two special occasions celebrating two special people, both so different and honored in such different ways, and yet when the years go by and they are only memories, you find yourself commemorating both days the very same way: