My mom would have turned 76 years old last week had she not lost her battle with a brain tumor in September 2008. It's hard to believe, but today I remember my mom on Mother's Day for the fifth time since her passing.
To be honest, I remember her every day. It's hard not to do so. She and my dad gave me so much in the way of making me who I am today it would be an injustice to her not to think about her multiple times a day.
From the smallest to the biggest things in my life, my mom is with me perhaps more than ever. I'm more aware of the things she told me as well as the things she showed me.
There are times when I could swear I hear her voice. I'm pretty sure I do - at least I would like to think so.
She helped cultivate my passion for many of the things I love.
My mom enjoyed helping me collect baseball and football cards. She didn't get the thrill out of opening the endless packs of cards with the sticks of gum in them like I did.
After I would tear open the packs and look at each card to see if I already had it or not, she took over.
She would take the cards and put them in numerical order - one card for each number. Those became the "good" cards. If we had the checklist cards, she would color in the corresponding box next to the player's name and card number.
As I collected the cards, I'd get doubles, triples and more of each, and she then started second and third sets of cards. Those became my "doubles" and "triples." Then she would start putting players from my favorite teams - the Mets and the Jets - in their own stacks. Some of the sets and stacks are still intact in cardholders in my basement.

Recently, I rediscovered the joy of doing jigsaw puzzles. I love puzzles. My mom and I would sit for hours, and days, working on puzzles. She would separate the edges from the inside pieces. There was no putting inside pieces together until the edge was done. It didn't matter if you could put four or five inside pieces together. That just wasn't going to happen when my mom was around.
Most of the time when she would do puzzles, they were of landscapes. It didn't matter if it was coastal, mountainous, flatlands or desert.
I like doing Word Find puzzles. There were a couple of times she'd buy the same book so we could compete and see who could find all the words first.
I like many of the same singers and groups she liked, including Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
It was a struggle for her to do this, but she finally got me to eat cabbage rolls with the meat and the cabbage still together. She was very pleased when I ate stuffed peppers without taking the meat out of the peppers. She was thrilled when I started eating pasta with sauce on it.
Mushrooms? I never thought I would eat a mushroom. I was wrong. Those are just a few of the foods that are among my favorite to eat.
She taught me family is important and something to be proud of. There wasn't anything wrong with showing affection to family, regardless of where you are. A kiss on the cheek in public should be considered a badge of honor and not something to dread. A hug in front of strangers shouldn't be something to fear. It's something that should be embraced.
It amazes me sometimes when I take a step back and look at how things I got from my mom.
Perhaps more important than anything, she taught me parents should, and almost have to, love their kids. But, mom said, parents don't have to like their kids. I did make her mad one time, so mad I thought I was going to lose her "like."
Sadly, too few parents follow my mom's way of thinking.
I think - at least I hope - I'm cut from the same cloth in that regard. I love - and like-- my boys.
Five years ago, I celebrated Mother's Day with my mom. Today, I can't do that. Instead, I celebrate her life. I like the first option much better.
Happy Mother's Day.

Sitarz can be reached at 943-2529 or via email at Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.