For most of my life, Mother's Day has been an occasion for memories because for the majority of my years, my mom has been gone. The last Mother's Day she was alive was in 1980.
But that does not mean I was without motherly love all those years. My Aunt Helvi saw to that, always making me feel a part of things.
This is the first Mother's Day she will be gone, too. She died March 11, exactly two months before this year's observance of the day in motherhood's honor. She was 85.
Aunt Helvi's body struggled with health issues in the last months of her life, but her spirit never faltered, even though she was aware her time on Earth was coming to a close. She was unabashedly joyful and completely engaged in her family right up to the moment she passed.
What an example she was to everyone who knew her - and to those she met in her final days.
That example was something her children - all eight of them - learned from their entire lives. That shone brightly when she needed help as each of them stepped up without a word of complaint. All eight rearranged their lives to do what was needed so she could stay in her home, despite her medical challenges.
My family has always made me proud but never more so than during Aunt Helvi's illness. Lois, Mike, Bo, Jeff, Nita, Andy, Joel and Lissa: You all were magnificent.
So, too, were Helvi's grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Each of them found time to visit with their Mumu (a Finnish word for grandma) and included her in the happenings of their lives, much to Aunt Helvi's delight. Some traveled many miles to get a chance to spend time with their darling grandma.
We all witnessed that Helvi truly lived until she died.
When I would stop by to visit, Helvi would want me to catch her up on what was going on with me. She read The Mining Journal every day. She watched "Jeopardy" and "High School Bowl" whenever she could and did not miss "Downton Abbey."
This Mother's Day, as has been the case for more than three decades, sweet memories of my mother will be flashing through my brain. But so, too, will thoughts of lovely Aunt Helvi, who didn't have to take me under her wing, but did.
It was such an honor to me - a total blessing - that she considered me her fourth daughter. How lucky am I to have had two such wonderful mothers in my life?
My hope is this Mother's Day, if you are fortunate to have your mother still with you, it will be a time for creating new memories. My plea is even if there are some difficulties between you and your mother - and I realize some people, moms included, can be impossible to deal with - you put the negative aside and recall the good things she has contributed to your life. And if you love her, please tell her.
If your mom is gone, my wish is you find comfort in remembering Mother's Days past: the lumpy pancakes you made, the colorful crayon cards you drew, the flowers you gave or the meals you shared as a family.
To any moms reading this, may this Mother's Day be your best ever.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 240. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.