richardmcculloch2web.gifFor a very long time, Mother’s Day has been the most significant of all the holidays on my calendar.

You see, my mother succumbed to cancer in 1976 when I was only nine years old. I revisit her passing with emotional regularity every May as the commercials for Mother’s Day gifts begin to make their way onto their airwaves, and networks tailor their programming to address the day in which we give thanks for and show our appreciation for our mothers.

Living without her physical presence throughout the last 31 years has greatly influenced the way I conduct my life. In addition to my faith-based belief that her spiritual presence would always be with me came an appreciation of the nine years of memories that she cultivated within me.

In the midst of our day-to-day responsibilities and negotiating the mundane realities of the world, it is very easy to overlook and ignore the importance of making memories with those we love and cherish. They deserve more, and so do we.

In my experience, it is the curse of procrastination that is often the primary culprit in this negligence to create memories for and with our loved ones.

One of the treasured memories that I have of my mother is her picking me up from school one day when I was in either first or second grade. As a registered nurse who worked the overnight shift at a local hospital, she usually reserved her days and afternoons for sleep and the domestic duties needed to maintain our household.

But on this particular day, I was the focus of her attention.

Though the details of that day have been rendered somewhat hazy due to my own aging process, enough of the memory has remained to sustain me for over three decades.

I remember that she took me by the hand, and we took the bus to McDonald’s on Gun Hill Road in my North Bronx, N.Y. neighborhood. We ate outside the fast food restaurant on a table with an umbrella poised directly over us.

Shielded from the sun, eating my hamburger, and looking into my mother’s eyes is an image that has comforted me many times when the sense of her loss bordered on overwhelming.

What made that day so special was that my sister had been, or was about to be, born, yet my mother still let me know through that special lunch that I was just that: special.

I am sure that she could have done a million other things that day and pushed it off until a more convenient time, yet she didn’t. Sharing her beautiful smile and some french fries with her son was more important, and it is a memory that will last me a lifetime.

On the day that my mother closed her eyes forever, her regrets were few, but the memories she left me were many. Like our McDonald’s trip, most of them were simple and inexpensive in their execution, but priceless in their impact.

Though my memories of my mother are too numerous to mention in this column, the importance of those memories is something that I know she would want me to share.

The making of memories is not something to be put off until another day. It’s a trip to the movies with your adolescent. It’s making a meal with your teenage children as you talk about their high school crushes or that big test that they may be scared of taking. It’s about setting aside the time to make the special people in your life feel…you know; special.

The next time that you are tempted to put off that phone call to Mom or Dad until a more convenient time, please take a moment to think of my mom. A hug from her is impossible, a kiss from her will never happen, but the memories that we shared represent an eternal gift that keeps on giving.

So remember, make the time, and make some memories.

Richard McCulloch •