Dear Mom

Mom and me - at the park 1 - Copy

By Judy Berman

Letters. Such an old-fashioned way to keep in touch. But so lovely to look back on.

How much is lost because letter-writing has been replaced by texting?

Those cryptic little words on an iPhone could never provide the warm feeling you experience when you hold a letter addressed to you.

When I saw a letter from my Mom in the mailbox, I couldn’t wait to get inside, rip open the envelope and savor the contents while sipping a hot cup of tea.

She’d send cartoons, articles from the newspaper, dreams she had, and her hopes for my family and me.

She also included recipes for comfort food that I missed: tacos, chicken and rice soup, meatloaf, and golabki (pigs in the blanket aka Polish stuffed cabbage).

The stack of her letters spans more than 30 years. In one, she wrote about the birth of my second child – still months away. Mom said she was holding my baby who was trying to stand.

A little ambitious. I chuckled at the thought. The child, in her dream, was only 3 days old. A boy with reddish-blond hair.

Turns out, our second child was a towheaded girl. It was fun to read about and know how much Mom looked forward to seeing our little one.

Some Moms may crave fancy jewelry, exotic trips and pricey gifts. Not mine. One year (in August) I sent her a package filled with something I knew she’d been hungering for – Beefsteak Tomatoes.

Beefsteak tomatoes

I wish I could have been there when Mom opened the box. She was ecstatic.

“You know how much I like tomatoes, and you know what a pale imitation I have been eating since we came out here (Nevada). (The ones you sent) are going fast and everyone is enjoying them,” Mom wrote me.

Even though I was grown and on my own, she’d prescribe a huge dose of Momisms:: “Take care of yourself, and for the love of heaven watch yourself on those icy streets. Walking will do you a world of good, but falling won’t.”

Mom - letters from Mom

As I read her letters, I’d smile over some memory that surfaced from just a few lines.

I reminded her of the time she did battle with one of my teachers. Mom objected to how the 7th-grade history teacher disputed what I’d written in an essay. This was Mom’s favorite subject, and she knew what I wrote was on solid ground.

Mom responded that wasn’t the first time. When I was about 9, she went to the school district to defend my right to beat up a bully who was twice my size.

“His mother said her son was a bleeder. I told her to teach her son to keep his hands off little girls who only come up to his belt. I assured her that I did not permit you to beat up little gentlemen,” Mom wrote me.

“The principal later told me he did himself a serious injury over that line,” Mom quipped.

I will never forget that bully. But I truly do not remember beating him up.

My regret? I wish I was still able to write to Mom today. I miss our phone calls, her letters, and most of all, I miss her.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms. Give yours an extra hug from me.

Quotes about Mothers from the Quote Garden

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. Tenneva Jordan

Sweater, noun: garment worn by a child when its mother is feeling chilly. Ambrose Bierce

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Main photo: Mom (Milly Fiet) and me at the park – It was a long day. I’m tuckered out, and, I’ll bet Mom is, too.

Photo: Letters from Mom over the years

Photo: Beefsteak tomatoes – Taken April 30, 2013, by Lufa Farms (Montreal neighborhood of Ahuntsic-Cartierville).

  1. The photo of you and Mom Milly is precious, Judy. I recognize the look on your face.

    The letter writer in my family was my dad. When I was in college, every week I received from him an index card, filled in his cramped cursive so he could fit as much news and advice as he could on that one ruled side, address and stamp on the blank side.

    Every week my daughter was in college, she received from me an index card filled with my cramped print handwriting, two sides of an index card, stuck inside an envelope. (Privacy, you know.)

    Thanks for sharing your memory. No, texts don’t carry the gravitas nor breeze.

    Happy Mother’s Day, my friend. Shout out to Dave, too, on this holiday weekend for us all, really.

    1. How sweet. I know how precious those notes are from your Dad. Mark, I hope your daughter kept some of those index cards from you.

      My Dad, as I recall, only wrote on a Christmas tag to me – as a joke for me complaining he never wrote. After my Mom died, he wrote many letters to me and our girls. His correspondence is treasured, too.

      Happy Mother’s Day to you, your lovely wife, and your family.

      1. Thank you, Judy. I think you got your dad’s sense of humor! Christmas tag!! Wonderful.

        comment from earthrider to Mark Bialczak:
        Right you are, Mark. Corny and warped. 😆

  2. I love the photo and anecdotes. Your Mom, your advocate: rah-rah for her!

    Also, I enjoyed inspecting the collage of postcards and notes: You even have the envelopes! (And I know the effort it takes to make all of that happen in blog posting.)

    I agree that cryptic emails and texting — even comments on Facebook really can’t come close to the warmth of a letter in the hand, sent through the mail, and with STAMPS!

    Just now I am looking at a note mother (now 95) sent me April 30. It was a tiny message on pink paper about one of her church friends who was in the hospital with pneumonia. When I go visit her in June, she will get a special hug. I know I am in the minority when it comes to having a mom still alive and able to converse.

    1. Give your Mom an extra hug from me, Marian. You are lucky to have your Mom to talk to and visit with. 😉

      That photo really does say a lot. It makes me smile. Glad you liked it and the anecdotes. I’d forgotten some of them until I re-read my Mom’s letters.

  3. What a wonderful, real, non-posed picture, Judy! It’s a perfect writing prompt: can you imagine the conversation? the touches? the feeling of the sand and the sighs of the child?
    I loved your mother’s details. Right or wrong, they were obviously based in love, and that made them so special.
    Happy Mother’s Day, dear Judy!

    1. Well the child (me) looks like she’s conked out. Too much fun in the sun, I’m guessing. Mom’s probably ready for a nap, too. You’re right, Marilyn, the setting does conjure all types of scenarios.

      Happy Mother’s Day to you and your Mom. 😉

  4. What a wonderful tribute to your Mom – and to thank all mothers – for the memories, for thei caring, for their love.

  5. I do enjoy looking back at old letters as well. As you know I had fun pulling out your old letters for your birthday last year. It’s funny to see what we talked about so long ago. I also cherish letters from your mom and dad as I feel I have a piece of them still with me. There’s something about knowing that they handled that piece of paper or card and was thinking of me.

    Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

  6. I also love reading and looking back at old letters. Thank you for sharing this great memories, Judy! Happy Mothers day to you! 🙂

  7. How beautiful this is Judy, such a perfect subject for Mothers Day!♥ I’ve got my tissues out now (no kidding!) And such a lovely picture too, is that you and your Mum in that picture? I know what you mean about those letters from your Mother, if you have that kind of relationship with either parent, there is nothing in the world that will ever replace it! So, I’m guessing you’ve kept all those letters? I find it impossible to throw my Mothers letters away, I don’t look at all those lovely letters that often because I’ve found reading them to be almost too much of a reminder, so emotional, a real harsh reminder of how much I’ve lost. I’m one to hide from facing emotion, but they feel like the true essence of my Mum, almost like a recording of her voice. And I could swear I can still smell my mothers fragrance from them even after 12 years, and sometimes that’s a little overwhelming. 😦

    Someone joked with me on Facebook a few weeks ago and said “Do you remember letter’s Suzy? Hahahaha!!!” They’re only 27, but even to a 27 year old memories of letters seems a long time ago, in their sepia past!! 😉

    Your Mother and the content of her letters sounds really lovely, something perhaps a lot of people haven’t been so lucky to have. We’ve been very blessed to have that comforting past. The way you described your Mothers letters reminds me a lot of my own Mother and her Mother. I got letters from both of them and all sorts of bits and pieces sent inside. And even sometimes bits of paper with pictures of the queen, that paper I could exchange in shops for goods! 😀 They always seemed to mysteriously know when I was in real need of a little cash!

    And how did you forget beating that bully?!! I had a few boys at my primary school who persisted in trying to beat me up, and I wished I’d had the courage to beat them back, but I was just too polite for my own good. Being polite can sometimes be a bit of a hazard! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Suzy, for your thoughtful and sweet comments. I didn’t mean to make folks cry. I find my Mom’s letters very comforting. Even though she’s been gone since 2001, there are so many things that remind me of her. That is my Mom and me in the photo. While I can’t recall the smell of my Mom’s perfume, I have several items that she crocheted: a table cloth, a dolly with a crochet dress and hat, and slippers.

      I thought I had a bigger collection of her letters. Either I’ve stored them somewhere else in the house or I’ve lost some during my many moves over the past 30-plus years. I’m not sure if I have any letters from my Grammy (my Mom’s mother). But I do have some typed letters from my Granddad (my Dad’s father) and they are a hoot. 😉

      You’d think I’d remember something as spectacular as beating up my nemesis. Maybe I blocked that out of my mind. I wrote a blog about this – maybe 2 years ago. All I know is one day he was no longer bullying me. It wasn’t until I found my Mom’s letter – this month – that I realized how that ‘reign of terror’ ended.

  8. Such a beautiful mother’s day post Judy. I too treasure the letters from my mom, they seem like the only connection I have left with her. Today is her birthday, and so I am doubly grateful to you for sharing your memories and jogging mine in return. Thank you 🙂

      1. Wonderful memories, Madhu. It’s like having our Moms here with us. Birthdays, holidays and special get-togethers are when we think of them even more.

        Thank you. I always thought my Mom and Dad were a beautiful couple. I recall watching a movie many years ago and thinking that my Mom looked like one of the stars in the film. 😉

  9. You may have read that my Mom still sends me letters. It has been a blessing, I was always like you, so happy to receive her letters, notes and cards in the mail. I have been a little dismayed that she is losing some of her ability to write and I try to call her more often. She is so worried, when I call, though, since she was raised (and I was raised with the same belief) that “Something must be wrong” if you got a phone call! Anyway, my mother inserted a lot of special idea, poems, news articles with her opinions on the edges and the ones about the children were special. I have only about 20 of them, since I wanted to ‘thin the crop,’ only 5 of my father’s and then about a six inch stack of my Grandpa’s letters to me. I treasure his encouragement and the fact he would call my clarinet a ‘licorice stick’ and I got a lot of philosophy in those letters. They are so wonderful and I am so glad you have your Mom’s letters to you. I found a pile I had written to my Mom, when we cleaned out her house, to move her to a retirement community. I laughed at mine, they were pretty ‘basic,’ (read: boring!) just daily news about my years as a wife, then later as a single mom. Wonder if she would just skim them? Smiles, Robin

    1. Robin, I’m sure your Mom savored every line you wrote. Your letters showed you cared. She did treasure them. That’s why she saved them.

      Like you, I called my Mom a lot. I wanted to hear her voice more than exchange letters. But both methods of communication helped forge a strong link. The letters, however, mean I still have a bit of her with me when I open them. That’s priceless. 😉

  10. I couldn’t agree more about all that we are losing in the digital age. Having my grandmother’s handwritten recipes, notes, and letters means so much to me – a tangible link to someone now gone. Your Mom sounds like she had a great sense of humor – her comment about you not beating up little gentlemen is absolutely priceless!

    1. Handwritten notes are precious. I’m glad you have those tangible memories. My Mom had a dry sense of humor and could be quite funny. Some of the things she said make me laugh – decades after the fact – when I think of them. Thank you for your comments.

  11. Truly soopah-doopah, Judy– one of your most eloquent and moving posts, ever– and it didn’t even include gunshots on the streets of Utica!!

    Absolutely love that photo of you and your mom. What is there about a simple, grainy B&W photo that can tear your heart out? Never mind, rhetorical question…

    Loved the story about how your mom defended you against the history teacher, and stood fast for your right to thrash big ugly bullies!! And very reassuring to know you don’t beat up nice little gentlemen– I feel safer now… : )

    Excellent post, my dear reporter!!

    1. Mark, I always look forward to your humorous insights and thoughtful comments. They make my day and night. 😉

      I prefer color photos, but I have to admit that I do like this one of my Mom and me.

      No worries. I put up my boxing gloves eons ago. Oh. Wait a minute. I never had boxing gloves. Never mind.

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