Nobody’s Child But Mom’s

Nobody’s Child But Mom’s

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

Nobody’s Child But Mom’s

When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.
~Author Unknown

I was six months pregnant, but instead of feeling thrilled and excited, I was devastated. The woman I called “Mom,” who’d raised me since infancy, had just passed away. I grieved for my baby, who would never experience the joy of knowing this amazing woman.

After my biological mother left my father and me, he decided there was no room in his life for a child. He signed legal guardianship over to a close friend of his family, a forty-seven-year-old woman who thought she’d remain childless forever.

While my father paid child support, he was never more than a remote and distant figure in my life. It was Mom who helped me with my homework and accompanied my class on field trips. When some of the kids teased me about not having “real” parents, Mom sat me down and gave me advice in her usual no-nonsense manner.

“Forget about them,” she said. “Hold your head up, be the best you can be, and always remember to smile. It’ll make them wonder what you’re up to.”

When I graduated from high school, Mom encouraged me to attend college, even though she herself hadn’t gone beyond the ninth grade.

The day after I received my bachelor’s degree, she threw a huge party.

“Congratulate my daughter, the teacher,” she said to one of her cousins. “The first one in our family to graduate from college.” It didn’t matter to her that, technically, none of these people were related to me. I was her daughter and that was that.

A few months before my wedding, Mom had a heart attack. While the doctors were pessimistic about her being able to attend, Mom was determined. Instead of arguing with the doctor as she usually did, she followed his instructions to the letter, and was able to walk me down the aisle.

When I found out I was pregnant, Mom was the first person we told. As soon as she heard, she grabbed me and danced around the room.

“My baby’s having a baby,” she sang. She kissed me on one cheek and then the other, before wrapping me in one of her voluminous hugs. Her excitement grew when I told her my plans for being a stay-at-home mother.

“We can take walks to the park together,” I said, then joked, “You can even come over any time you want, and change a diaper or two.”

“Like I haven’t changed enough of those in my lifetime,” she laughed.

Mom did everything but hire a skywriter to announce the fact that she was going to be a grandmother. One evening, she rode her bicycle over to our house looking as excited as a kid at Christmas.

“I came across these this afternoon. I’d forgotten I saved them for you,” she said, handing me a small box. Removing the cover, I found a tiny ring, bracelet and necklace.

“These were my welcome home gift to you,” she said with a look of nostalgia. “If your baby turns out to be a girl, she can wear them.”

To celebrate our wedding anniversary, my husband and I made reservations at a resort two hours from home. When I called Mom to say goodbye, her last words to me were, “I love you. Now go have a great time. You may not have a chance to celebrate like this once you have the baby.”

That evening the hospital called. Mom had collapsed at a friend’s house while playing cards. Her condition was listed as grave. We raced to the hospital, but by the time we arrived, Mom was gone.

In spite of everyone’s expressions of sympathy, I was inconsolable. I was carrying a child of my own, yet I felt like an infant myself as I wept for my mother. I turned down invitations from friends who wanted to take me to lunch or go shopping. Instead I continued to grieve, taking solitary walks during the day and long drives in the evening. Even my husband couldn’t cheer me up. The only person capable of doing so was gone.

One Sunday, Aunt Annie, Mom’s sister, invited me over for the afternoon. When she opened the door, twenty-five of my friends, and Mom’s, surprised me with a baby shower.

After the party games and refreshments were over, it was time for me to open my gifts. Soon, the living room floor was covered with tiny clothing, baby toys, and even a stroller. I was almost relieved when I’d opened the last of my presents. I didn’t know which hurt worse, my feet or my back. I couldn’t wait to get home and flop down on the couch.

“Just one more.” Aunt Annie ran back to her bedroom and reappeared with a bulky package. Laughter erupted throughout the room. Never one to waste money on fancy paper and ribbon, Mom had always wrapped her gifts with whatever was handy, securing them with remnants she found in her sewing box. This one was wrapped in the comics’ section of the newspaper and tied with a long piece of green silk.

When I removed the silk, and the paper fell to the floor, I was left holding a crib quilt done in shades of red, green and blue. I gazed at the precise stitches and longed more than ever for my mother.

Everyone rushed over to gush over the quilt. I kept a tight grip on it, refusing to let anyone else touch it. There was something so familiar about those colorful squares, but I couldn’t pinpoint where I’d seen them before.

Annie, who’d been watching me, came over and bent her head close to mine. “The squares are made from some of the dresses you wore as a little girl,” she whispered. “Your mom said she loved them so much she couldn’t bear to give them away. When you announced you were pregnant, she was so excited....” She stopped, overcome with emotion.

I held the soft quilt close to my face. I had a vision of Mom, bent over one of her projects, while at the same time trying to help me with my math. More memories washed over me as I stroked the quilt with my fingers.

“She loved you so much,” said Annie with shining eyes. “She always said every day she spent with you was a gift.”

Through my own tears, I glanced down at the card, attached to a corner of the quilt by a slender thread. It was written in Mom’s endearing scribble.

“It’s time for you to make your own memories, but never forget that you will always be my baby.”

“Thank you,” I whispered. “And you will always be my mother.”

~Ellen Fink

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners