Phil Anderson: Remembering my Mom on Mother’s Day

A million memories will be celebrated come Sunday

Virginia Anderson, who passed away at age 97 on Monday, May 8, left a million memories for her family. (Phil Anderson/The Capital-Journal)

After a long and wonderful life, my Mom, Virginia Anderson, passed away on Monday, May 8, at the age of 97 in Topeka.


Yes, I will still celebrate Mother’s Day when it rolls around on Sunday.

And why not?

As I realized shortly after her passing, I’m always going to have Mom with me in my heart.

I am sure this is the case with many others who have lost their mothers through the years.

Mothers are special. There’s just no other way to say it, whether it’s your own mother you are talking about or, for the dads out there, the mother of your children. No one can ever take the place of our mothers.

There is no holiday quite like Mother’s Day in my book. It is almost a sacred time when we remember with deep appreciation all the sacrifices our moms have made for us through the years — including all the prayers said on our behalf.

Those who have had our mothers with us for well into their adult years, like me, are particularly blessed.

And, yes, my heart goes out to those who lost their moms too early.

When I look back over my Mom’s life, so many things stand out.

First and foremost, I will remember how she loved and served God and her family, and how she demonstrated that in so many different ways.

There were plenty of big things Mom did — starting with giving birth to her four sons and one daughter, raising them with love and care and working hard to support her family, along with my dad.

Yet it is the “little” things she did day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out, that I’ll probably remember most.

Among those things were the dinners Mom would make every day of the week. These were “little” only in the sense that they went by without much fanfare because they happened every day. But, looking back, each was an expression of my Mom’s love and devotion to her family.

The highlight was Sunday dinner. Mom would plan what she was going to make by Friday or Saturday at the latest, when she would buy what she needed at Murray’s Market, around the corner from our house on Central Park.

Then, on Sunday morning, Mom would get started making the dinner well before it was time to go to Sunday school and church.

I remember waking up those Sunday mornings and, while I was still upstairs, knowing by the aroma exactly what we would be having for dinner when we got home from church that day.

It might be roast beef, cooked in a large cast-iron pot along with potatoes and carrots and celery and onions.

Or maybe fried chicken, which I would hear sizzling and popping in the skillet when I came downstairs.

Mom would often be humming or singing as she made dinner, an expression of her great joy of being in the kitchen and the love she had for all of us.

The mashed potatoes would be made after we got home from church. They looked like a majestic cream-colored mountain with steam coming off the top when they were finished and placed in a large bowl.

Then there was the accompanying smooth, creamy gravy that was absolutely perfect every time.

Mom always had several vegetables to go along with our meals, usually corn or green beans seasoned with just the right amount of bacon.

A gelatin salad, often with fruit cocktail or pears or pineapple, added color to the dinner.

Homemade biscuits with butter and jelly — practically a dessert in themselves — were a treat that Mom brought to Kansas from her early days in Louisiana.

The real highlight was always the dessert, and Mom never, ever disappointed in that regard.

My favorite were her pies, whether they were cherry or peach or apple. Or her delectable coconut cream or lemon meringue pies.

It was the crust — that delicate, flaky, baked-to-perfection crust — that set my Mom’s pies apart from any I have ever had.

As I grew older, I told myself that one of those Sunday afternoons in the fall, when it would be too cold and damp to do anything, I was going to have my Mom show me how to make those pies. And especially the crust.

No, I never quite got around to those Sunday afternoon baking lessons.

Doubt I ever could have come close to duplicating what Mom did with her pies, anyway. As my dad was fond of saying, Mom put that little extra ingredient called love in all her cooking.

These and a million other memories, no doubt, will come to me this Sunday as I remember my Mom on Mother’s Day.

Of course, I will also celebrate and give special honor my wife, Gloria, the mother of our four children.

Still, it won’t be the same this year — nothing ever will be, of course, after you lose your Mom.

But perhaps in some small way, I’ll find a way to celebrate my first Mother’s Day without my Mom, knowing with certainty that I’m really not without her, but that she’s still in my heart, and that one day we’ll be together again.

Contact reporter Phil Anderson at (785) 295-1195 or follow live reports @Philreports on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at