H. Frances Reaves with her mother Charlotte.

H. Frances Reaves with her mother Charlotte.

Photo Courtesy H. Frances Reaves

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. My mother, Charlotte, died in 2017 so this year I don’t have to get a card, take her to lunch, buy a present . . . and I miss it. I have never been sure why there is a day to remember Mothers – how can we forget them? They gave us life.

Yes, Fathers are important but for the most part, it’s Mom who is our big influence. She is the day to day caretaker. However, let me include all the stay-at-home Dads when I say that being the day-to-day caretaker is an important and thankless job. So thank you Moms, and Dads, for all you do and did.

My Mother married a man (Dad) who explored for oil all over the world. She met him in Rio du Janeiro on a layover while working as a flight attendant for Pan American Airways. They married two years later and moved to Belem, Brazil where the three children were born. When I was seven years old we were transferred to Benghazi, Libya and two years later to Singapore. We spent three years in Singapore, six months in the Philippines until we landed in Bogota, Colombia. After Colombia, it was Argentina, then back to Singapore where I graduated from high school. Mom and Dad (and the remaining kids) moved to Lima, Peru, Cairo, Egypt, and then Singapore. Mom and Dad repatriated in 1984.

Dad was in charge of finding oil and Mom was in charge of getting the family to where Dad was. Imagine, a Washington DC debutante, now living in third world countries, responsible for three children. She was also Dad’s hostess as he rose up the ladder in his company. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the “greatest generation’s” definition of Mother and Wife.

As a mother, Charlotte was always nervous. She had three “very American looking” children. Here’s how she helped us fit in:

She reminded us that we were guests. We had to try and learn the language of the country. She took us to all the cultural events, cool towns and museums. We had to learn the “dance” of the country. She learned how to cook the national dishes and each one of us had to do something cultural (me-ballet, my sister-organ and brother-guitar).

We’re all college graduates with very independent streaks.

In the end, when Mom was in her last couple of years, it was an honor to cut her fingernails and toenails, slather her with lotion, read to her, listen to Frank Sinatra and sing along…even if she didn’t remember me. Without her, I wouldn’t be writing these columns and recognizing her in me. Thank you, Mom.

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