Mother's Day Musings

Mother's Day Musings

by Camille Sanzone
The Friday before Mother's Day, while looking for a particular cassette, I found some cassettes with OLD FAMILY MUSIC written on the labels. I took them out and began listening to them. There and then I decided to make that day my Mother's Day; it would be my first without my mother. Among the family tapes, I found one we had made in 1960 to send my brother Johnny when he was in the Navy. I imagined how my brother must have felt all those years ago listening with his buddies to his very Sicilian family, all taking turns talking to him, singing to him or for him, making our own brand of music. I continued to listen, alternately crying, smiling, crying, then laughing out loud. At one point, I even got up and danced with my mother. I imagined her in my arms, and danced all around the living room. As always, I let her lead. She held me tight, as was also her way, and we danced and danced. It was a heady experience. Uncle Joe was playing one of those Italian 1-2-3, 1-2-3 dance numbers on his banjo, which he followed with one of his never-ending polkas. And while we danced, a picture grew in my mind of my Uncle Joe, also gone now, leaning into the music, with that broad smile on his face, plucking life from the strings on that old banjo. Suddenly, I heard my mother's familiar polka squeal, "Yee..eeeeee....ha!" as we twirled around the room, and I grew dizzy. But I felt safe in my mother's arms. It was exhilarating! And it brought back a lot of lovely memories.

My Past

One of the things I unearthed while listening to the family tapes was how for too much of my adult life I had tended to remember just the pain of my childhood, and here was a piece of my past, echoing some of the joy of my childhood, some of the richness of my family history, of my personal myth. And it felt good. It felt very good. I discovered, too, that I like who I am, who I have become. And I owe a good deal of who I am to my past, and to my mother. I was by no means the perfect daughter. Ours was not a perfect relationship; but my relationship with my mother was always important to me, and it grew more important to me with each passing year. There was a gnawing at the very core of me, telling me that I needed to heal my relationship with my mother, even before she became ill two years ago. And so, one day I made a conscious decision to stop brooding about the past and to enjoy what I loved about my mother. I loved how my mother and I used to dance together at all the weddings and family gatherings. I knew she loved to dance, and I would grab her or she would grab me, and onto the dance floor we would go. I loved how she played the piano and sang. I can see her as plain as day holding a microphone and singing their song, "You Belong to My Heart," to my embarrassed father. How she loved to sing! I never saw my mother more alive than when she was singing. And nobody played piano quite like my mother.

I know life sometimes disappointed her, but when there was music, that all seemed to fade away. The music. That was the best that was in her. I think the two things my mother wanted most in life, and to be loved with inspiration. I hope I gave her some of both, especially her last year, while she did battle with her cancer. My sister Rosemary was primary care giver for Mom; my brother Johnny, who is the last hold out in New York, came as often as he could. I went to my sister's most nights to relieve her when I got home from work, and had Mom with me almost every weekend until she was unable to travel. I hugged her a lot. I kissed her often. I told her I loved her every day. Oh, there had been times in our relationship when I felt I could never do enough to please my mother; and then there were times, especially toward the end, that I didn't think I did enough for my mother; but listening to her voice on that old cassette, I forgave myself, and I believe she forgave me too. I felt grateful that we had grown close, and realized for the first time that it was not through my efforts alone. We had been moving in sync towards each other.

As I continued to listen to the tape, I began to feel grounded, centered, healed. I acknowledged myself for my unfailing eagerness to forgive the past, to accept my mother for who she was, and to love her for being the best mother she knew how to be with her level of understanding, knowledge and awareness. Essentially, I sat there loving myself for having loved her while there was still time. Even when I wasn't particularly thrilled with her. As she, no doubt, loved me, even when she wasn't always thrilled with me. She once told me that she thought I was brave; braver, she said, than she had been in her life. She envied what she perceived as my courage to live my life as I wanted, authentically. Even when she got annoyed with me for not doing what she wanted, or for not going somewhere for the family's sake, I think she admired my ability to take strong stands on things. So, I guess I was a good daughter; perhaps not the best, but the best I knew how, with my own level of understanding, knowledge and awareness. And today I can say that I have no regrets, no major ones, anyway. I mean I wish I hadn't been so sarcastic my teenage years with her. I wish I had never said things that hurt her, but I guess that goes with the mother-daughter territory. Mother-son territory, too, for that matter. I'm just happy that my mother died knowing that I loved her. She made me crazy half the time, as perhaps I did her, but I loved her, and I am certain she felt it. And I know she loved me. Of course, as I'm writing this, tears are again pouring down my face. But they're good, healthy, crocodile tears! It's a cleansing...a washing away of pent up feelings, perhaps an end to my formal grieving period. Of course, I know the mourning never really stops completely, for we never forget. Residues still remain of the pain of losing my father five years ago. It's sometimes difficult to accept that I'll never hear my father's laugh, or hear my mother sing again. At least, not in the flesh, for I do hear them in spirit....and I can hear my mother's pure, sweet voice and even my father's laugh...on these precious tapes.

Lost in my reverie, I heard the tape suddenly come to its end, and a part of me couldn't help but sigh, thinking of the life that once was and is no more. The family dynamic has changed. It has changed forever. That's just the way it is. There will be good times again, of course, but certain things will never happen again; so I am savoring the good memories, and I am grateful even for the not-so-good ones, for all of them, mixed up and shaken together, have contributed to the person I am. I give special thanks for a father and mother who provided me with the perfect soil in which to grow. But I have to face one very sobering fact: I am now the older generation!

About the author:

Camille Sanzone is a writer, a comedian, a poet and a speaker. A woman of many talents! Through her business, House of Angels, she creates and facilitates workshops on personal, professional and spiritual growth. She also customizes workshops to meet a company's or organization's needs. Camille uses music, poetry, laughter and love in all of her presentations. If you would like more information on her writing or workshops please email Camille at


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