My best Mother's Day present

Book
Diana Waring created this book of happy memories for her mother, Pat. Photo by Ralph Stewart

By Pat Waring - May 10, 2007

The best Mother's Day present I ever got made me so happy I burst into tears. There we were, my daughter Diana and I, all dressed up, sitting in the Harbor View Hotel dining room. We were surrounded by families, couples with little children, mothers with sons, daughters, grandmothers too, all happy, smiling, laughing. I was happy too. I kept reassuring Diana through my tears that I loved her present, but the more I looked at it the more I just could not stop crying.

Our traditional Mother's Day begins with a rush of preparation, finding the right dress, digging out earrings, picking shoes. Then to Grace Church where, after the last hymn, we exchange Mother's Day greetings and all us moms are presented with roses. Next it's out to brunch somewhere festive, and finally a leisurely afternoon outdoors, taking a beach walk, digging in the garden or potting pansies.

Presents were always a part of our celebration. But though Diana, from the time she surprised me with a Mother's Day bouquet at two years old, has always been a wonderful present giver, what I got was never the high point. It was the day itself and all the fun, companionable time we got to share.

Still I was delighted that Sunday when Diana, 15 at the time, placed a flat, slim package on the table. After the usual shaking, squeezing, and smelling yielded no clues, I slowly unwrapped the paper.

The book was small, six by nine inches, and slender. Its simple black cover was bound with a strip of cheery gift wrap featuring hearts and teddy bears. I opened the cover and that's when the tears began.

Smiling out at me was a photo of Diana as a toddler, standing in our first flower garden. Inside, above a bright close-up of our favorite zinnias was the title, "A Book of Happy Things," along with a heart-shaped card. Next came a picture of Diana, then 10, in another garden, filling a basket with zinnias.

There she was in my striped apron, rolling out Christmas cookies in front of the crèche, and, on the next page, our gray and white cat Smokey. Here was our Christmas tree, Diana sitting nearby; then pine trees in Maine taken during the spring vacation when it rained almost every day. Diana leans against a snowman who has a quizzical look; she gets a hug from Mickey Mouse at Disney World.

We are in the front yard surrounded by old clothes, grinning at the camera during our annual yard sale, floating in a blue Florida swimming pool, sitting on my friend Carol's farmhouse veranda in Vermont - "gardens and cows and time to write and play the piano," Diana had written.

Every photo had a caption, both jaunty and dear, all done with such care, and such awareness of what, for mom, were "happy things."

Finally, there is one of my favorite pictures, me holding Diana when she is only one year old, a sunflower behind us, a red balloon above our heads. A perfect moment, one of those times one knows life just cannot get any better.

But really, every bright, colorful, happy, silly, sweet moment that Diana captured in this book is one of those. And every time I open it, even now, it takes me on that wonderful 15-year journey, every photo bringing back the entire experience. And every time I open it, even now, I start to cry again, a happy mother's tears.