Mothers, sons and a warm Downeast blanket

Another Mother’s Day has passed, and my mom was treated to a week here in Maine. This got me thinking about moms and life here, Downeast. Mom loves coming to visit us here in Maine, Dad too, though not to the same degree. She has always said that this place allows her to take a step back and relax. I think the visits actually allow her the chance to reflect on memories of a life well lived and provide a respite from a life devoted to taking care of others. It’s what mom’s do, right? My mom continues to do just that at the age of 80.

At an early age I was taught it is always better to give than to receive, and to put those words into a meaningful action is always special. For my mom, that action is being able to provide a place for her to take time for herself. Here Downeast, it is her time to simply be herself without distraction and free from worry. It is her time to remember that little girl growing up on Allen Street in Allentown, PA., in the 40s as a sister to a rambunctious gaggle of siblings – nine in total – and, of course, as a mom raising three boys on the south side of Allentown. She even had her “moment” at the age of three when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt paid a visit to my grandmother’s house. Immortalized in a photo, my mom is staring up at a very tall “stranger” as my grandmother looks on. I get to relive these memories and many more watching her go about her days here in Maine.

Back in those days, I am certain it was special wherever one grew up. For me, growing up in my neighborhood in Allentown was a pure treat. Those days were of scraped knees, sports of all kinds, secret passages through yards, alleys and playing fields of all types. Our field-of-dreams was filled with never-ending days of constant play. Those days were magical and boundless, and, compared to today’s youth, we were kings of the outdoors. Our parents knew that and also knew to stay out of our way.

The place where we grow up is embedded in each of us, and I think over time it becomes a part of our DNA. It is a distinct part of us then and an even greater part as we become older. The place is always there in some form: in our laughter, in our tears and in the love we share with others. So, too, are the parents who helped guide us to become the person we are today, especially mom.

After being here in Maine for some time now, in my mind, this place is a matriarch to the people living here, a mom to its sons and daughters. The place continually wraps you up in its goodness of land, sea and sky and does not let go. And when things are not going so well, such as health, jobs, bills, and family situations, there are people here who go out of their way to take time and lend a hand to help. It’s like getting a hug or a big warm blanket from your mom when you’re cold as she places her hand on your cheek and asks, “How are you feeling today?” It’s what a mom does for her children, and it’s what this place does for me.

My mom has been there for the entire family through the years, making sure we are all happy. And even though I think it may diminish her own life, perhaps it’s the other way around — doing for others makes her life. A parent’s love is eternal and selfless, placing their children above themselves each and every day.

As moms grow older, I would hope their worries would lessen about what others are feeling or needing, but I know they don’t. This should be their time, and, as such, everyday should be devoted to them, devoted in such a way that they are able to comfortably look back on her own time, feel happiness and be free from worry. This place, here Downeast, I know does that for my mom when she is here.

So, as another Mother’s Day has come and gone, I think it’s important that we all reflect on the places from which we came, the places we live now and the people who helped us along the way, especially our moms. Thank them by doing something for them or in memory of them, not just on one singular day but every day.

This place of sea and land is special. It constantly reminds me of my mom and the effort she places into each day to be there for the people she loves. As a mom, grandmother, sister, friend and confidant, her efforts are tireless, selfless, and pure.  My mom has been there for me every single day of my life, and her essence will continue to speak to me long after she is gone.

She will be there in the fog as it does its mid-morning creep across the water, in the waves and surf that delight in sight and sound and in the sun as it glints off the water’s edge of island, stone and the polished glass of yesterday. It is all of this and more that provides a warm blanket to soothe life’s worries and gives time to savor the memories, enjoy the grandeur of a day and appreciate it just like our moms.

RJ Heller

About RJ Heller

Having arrived here from Pennsylvania over a year ago, there has been plenty to learn and even more to observe. This place is different, but I mean that in a good way. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, I am a college graduate with a teaching degree, a business founder and seller, and a father of two children with my wife Stephanie; life has been full and somewhat adventurous, but finding Maine remains a high watermark in my life.