Celebrating Mother’s Day during Covid-19

Dear Ella,

Mother's-Day-photoI’m dreading Mother’s Day this year. I’ve been entertaining three kids ages 4 through 8, for a couple of months now, seems more like a couple of years. 

My husband locks himself in his room most of the day, even on weekends. He says he’s working, but I know he is struggling being in isolation. Normally, I would help him, but emotionally, I’m running on fumes and just don’t have the capacity to save one more person. 

Fortunately, my mom is safe at a retirement facility. I try to call her a couple of times a week so at least she hears my voice. I have a sister who is also taking on that responsibility and that helps.

What kind of Mother’s Day can I possibly have during this pandemic? 

Skip Mother’s Day


Dear Skip Mother’s Day,

There’s no question that this mother’s day will be one for the history books.

You’re holding down the fort for your whole family, which is not uncommon for many women. Add the mental stress of being in quarantine and you have a recipe for an emotional breakdown. 

Mother’s Day can give you the much needed permission to celebrate yourself and the amazing mom, daughter, aunt, woman you are. 

Take a moment and think back to the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, when George Bailey was given the gift of experiencing what everyone else’s life would have been like if he didn’t exist. Think about that for a minute or two and you will immediately realize how vital a role you play in every single life you touch. 

Here are some thoughts on how to celebrate Mother’s Day for you and many other moms, daughters, grandmothers and aunts today. 

Take your well deserved break. It may not be for more than an hour or so, but take it. Your kids are old enough to know what Mother’s Day is, and your husband can come out of hiding for at least an hour. He may even surprise you.

Go for a walk, enjoy the blooming flowers, take a bubble bath, grab some sleep, read a book, play a video game, talk on the phone, visit your mom, sister or friends, while keeping safe distancing in mind. Indulge in a glass of wine or something you love to eat.

You can also order flowers, a cake or a meal from your favorite restaurant. Celebrate the amazing, accomplished, strong, woman you are. 

Mother’s Day is the one day a year where every woman should be acknowledged. Whether you are single, married, divorced, widowed, it makes no difference. Every woman is special. Every woman has added so much depth and love to others.

There is another layer to add to Mother’s Day this year, and that is to celebrate the lives of those we have lost this year. Whether it was to Coronavirus, or to some other illness, you were not able to grieve or say goodbye properly. 

Take a moment today to celebrate the life of that person. Light a candle in her memory. Plant a tulip or other flower that will come back every year so that every spring, you will be reminded about that special woman in your life.

You may not be able to go to a cemetery to visit those special women you have lost over the years. Light a candle instead. Whatever silent thoughts you share with your loved one, they will receive it in a different way this year.

Mother’s Day is all about appreciation. I think you will be surprised how many people will show their appreciation for you today. Relish in the moment. Take in that well-deserved praise and love. 

It’s these little wins that will get us through this time together. Hopefully next year we will be able to hug our loved ones and never take that closeness and loving human touch for granted. 

We are in this together and we will get through this together.

Wishing every woman a very happy and healthy Mother’s Day, 

For now, Ask Ella will continue online. I will be more than thrilled to answer your questions. If I publish your letter online, you will remain anonymous. I will always answer you either on line or in a reply email. If you have any questions, need advice or just want to talk or vent, I’m here for you. Please send your email to:


Mother’s Day Poem for my Mom


Mom young

Shoshana Gold Burakowski


Reliving your journey, as I wrote Hidden Gold,
I understand now, the stories never told.
I metaphorically walked through hell in your shoes,
Through WW2 Poland, with so many other Jews.

You survived the Holocaust, but your pain was too great,
It left you fragile, and sealed your fate.
Your fear never healed, no chance for repair
No breaks for you, life just isn’t fair.

Now it makes sense, your cries in the night,
Your suffering and fear, in nightmares unite.
Waking in panic and gasping for breath,
Realizing it was a dream, not a brush with death.

Enlightened and in awe, I feel closer to you now,
Still shaking my head, and wondering how.
I miss you mom, I wish for one more chance,
To talk, to hug you, and have one more glance.

Mom, I have so much to ask, so much to say,
If only I could have just one more day.
I would hold you so tight and never let go,
But instead all I have is the odd photo.

I was too young to realize, too young to understand.
But all that has changed, as I take your hand,
And walk with you in spirit, today of all days,
I wish you were here to celebrate Mother’s day.

Give those you love the benefit of the doubt


Do you ever find yourself quick to judge? Do you assume you know the whole story without even asking? How do you know the scenario you’ve built in your mind is actually reality?
My column in the June 4th CJN tackles two questions. The first letter is about assuming you know the answer without ever having asked a question. The second letter is about judging what you see – again without ever having asked a question. 

Dear Ella,

Everything had been going too well. Last year, I met Arthur at my friend’s  book club. We went for coffee after the meeting and have been together ever since. We have so much in common. Our kids are grown and happy, we travel together, love to read and have wonderful discussions.  We truly enjoy each other’s company. I haven’t been this happy in years.

A few days ago, however, I was dealt quite a blow. After a routine mammogram and follow-up testing, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I will need a lumpectomy and radiation. I’ve been dealing with this alone, as the last thing I want to do is burden my daughters or Arthur. I’m seriously considering breaking it off. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Falling Apart 

Dear Falling Apart

Medically you’re doing all the right things by following doctors instructions and learning your next steps. Emotionally, however you are doing the opposite. There is no need for you to go through this alone. In fact, stress adds an extra challenge for your body to overcome.

You have a support system, and now is the time to use it. Your daughters would want to know and be there for you.

As for Arthur, give him a chance. See how he handles a difficult situation. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t let this diagnosis define you. Although it’s a setback, you caught it early and have a medical plan in place. Now put the support component in place to ensure the most positive outcome.

Arthur may end up being that special person who will get you through the rough times. A partner is there for the good times and the difficult ones. Give him the opportunity to step up. He deserves that. Do not look at this as a burden. Health problems are a fact of life and can hit anyone at any time. Would you have bolted if the tables were turned and Arthur told you he had cancer? Somehow I doubt it. The two of you may come out on the other side of this journey, closer, stronger and more committed.

Arthur will have a lot of emotions to work through. Give him the time you’ve allowed yourself. Let him absorb what you’re telling him. Let him talk and share his concerns, fears and feelings. Communication is key for both of you. Hopefully Arthur will be the special man you believed him to be. However, if that’s not the case, it’s best you find out now. Hang on to the people who deserve you. You’ll get through this with the people who love you.

Dear Ella,

My brother Harry is a successful businessman. He’s the CEO of a large company and has a seat on the board of two organizations. Harry has three children over 20. He split from his wife a few years ago and started dating. For the past three months, he’s been seeing a woman in her early 30s. Harry is pushing 60. He looks absolutely ridiculous with her. I’m sure this woman is more interested in Harry’s money than in Harry. Is there any tactful way I can raise this topic without losing the relationship I have with my brother?

Yearning for Youth

Dear Yearning for Youth

Harry has managed to raise a family, do well in business and gain the respect of members in the community. He sounds well rounded and in control.

I have to wonder why you feel a man who can do so much right with his life is so inept when it comes to picking who to spend his social time with?

On the one hand you make Harry sound like an intelligent pillar in the community, and on the other, you paint him to be a love-struck moron.

Give Harry a bit more credit. If this younger woman is out for your brother’s money, Harry will probably figure it out. Maybe this woman is bright, intelligent, has a good heart and brings out the youth in your brother? Maybe your brother enjoys spending time with a younger woman who makes him feel good about himself? Whatever the reason, it’s his life and his business.

Give your brother the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Harry knows exactly what he’s doing.

Downsizing a Hoarder


One of my questions in this week’s CJN deals with downsizing a lifetime of memories. What a daunting task! Throw? Store? Sell? Keep? Almost impossible to know where to begin. But it can be done and in fact, gets done all the time, but sometimes not on your terms. Do it while you still have the control.
What if you are the kids of parents like this? It’s time to get involved and help. They are literally drowning in love – love that has accumulated as they attempted to keep a little piece of each memory alive. Gee, how all that love does add up!

Dear Ella,

My wife and I have lived in our large home for almost 40 years. We’ve raised three children and have seven grandchildren. My wife has kept just about every memento, from baby teeth to artwork to report cards. Our bedrooms, garage, den and basement are packed with memories. We’re getting older, and climbing up and down our stairs is difficult. We need to move, but she won’t hear of it. How am I going to convince her?

Married to a Hoarder

Dear Married to a Hoarder

Compacting, discarding and choosing through a lifetime of memories may just seem too insurmountable to your wife. Where do you start? What’s important? Every item has a memory or a story attached. Just the thought of what lies ahead to get to your goal is daunting. But if you really want to get this done you can – together. Do a little research first so when you present the idea to your wife, you’ll have the solutions to all her objections.

If you look at the whole picture, it will be too overwhelming – almost impossible. So don’t take that approach.

First, talk about the safety issue. If you want any kind of control of your future, you’re better off doing this while it’s still physically possible and before there’s an accident, like a fall, which will force a lifestyle change.

Take one room, one closet and one drawer at a time. Separate your piles into items to distribute, donations, garbage and keepers. Take a photo of that Grade 2 report card or the finger painting, and store many of the memories on a computer. One of your grandkids can help with that. Make it fun – offer them an incentive to help. They’ll feel good about it and you’ll enjoy spending extra time together.

There are professional companies that can help. You’re not alone with this daunting task, but first you both have to admit you want to move.

Second, you have to be realistic about the work ahead, and third, ask or pay for help. Write down your plan and make sure each step can be executed. Create a rule, such as if you haven’t seen, used or touch something in a year, out it goes! Give yourselves a daily quota and stick to it. It took a lifetime to accumulate all of your stuff, and it will take time to downsize, but you’ll get through this if you keep your eye on the prize: moving to a newer, more manageable lifestyle.


– See more at: http://www.cjnews.com/columnists/downsizing-hoarder#sthash.LoD6Oii2.dpuf