Tony DiNozzo wiggled uncomfortably in his sailor suit and stood very still. His mother had a really bad headache again. Daddy called them hangovers. It was why Tony had to sit quietly so he didn't make her head hurt more. All the family was coming over, including Nonna Philomena, who was really really old and was Nonna Sophia's mom. They would eat lunch and then the men would play bocce ball and the ladies would do whatever girls did.
Tony hated waiting, but on days like this, he couldn't play, not even with Cousin Joey, who was ten years old. The sailor suit was white and Mother hated it when he got stains on it.
"Anthony? Your papa said you wanted to see me?" He jumped off the bed and ran to the doorway when he heard the voice of the woman who mattered most to him. "Carmella! Happy Mother's Day. I made you this card." He shyly handed over the card that he had worked on in art class at school. Carmella looked at it and smoothed her apron down, coming down to his level. She wrapped him in a tight embrace, sniffing a little. "Thank you, Anthony. It is the best card I ever got."
He beamed up at her. "I know you're not a mom yet but you're my mom. In here." He tapped his chest. "Where it matters the most."
"And you're my little boy in here where it matters most," Carmella echoed, touching her own heart.
It was a quiet Sunday for a change and Tony didn't have many plans for the day. He'd played basketball with some frat brothers yesterday, and a morning of messing around his apartment sounded just fine to him.
He was deep into his third rewatch of Body of Lies when his cell phone rang, startling him. "Yeah, Boss?" he asked, crossing his living room and going toward the bedroom, intending to throw some jeans on rather than his sweats.
"Not 'Boss', Anthony. Carmella. I just got your beautiful flowers. You are such a dear boy to remember me every year. You know I think of you as the son I…" She trailed off and Tony couldn't stop grinning.
"You bought me a vacation?"
"Just a getaway to Lake George, nothing fancy. Thought you and Paul deserved some time away."
"Five days, four nights… Oh, Anthony, you spoil us." There was a little waver in her voice.
"Never. You're my mom in every way that matters," he told her firmly. "Happy Mother's Day. I love you, Carmella."
"Love you too, Anthony. You take care now and make sure you eat healthy. And get enough sleep."
"I will, Mama Carmella."
Gibbs stood outside the front door and listened carefully. It was only oh seven hundred and he wanted to surprise and not scare them to death. He'd gotten lucky, has scored a little time off. Shannon had no idea. When he heard her laughter and Kelly's giggles, he couldn't help his own chuckle from emerging. He'd missed his girls.
Gibbs snuck around to the back yard carefully and up onto the deck, smirking when he saw her moving around the kitchen, Kelly sitting at the kitchen table. She looked out, caught sight of him, and her mouth opened in surprise and happiness. Gibbs put his fingers to his mouth, shushing her, and Kelly pressed her lips together, swinging her legs excitedly and bouncing in her seat.
Shannon looked at their daughter, arching an eyebrow before she turned back to the stove and Gibbs crept closer, knowing he had to act quickly before Kel ruined his surprise. A bouquet of carnations and a drugstore Mother's Day card were the best he could do. The surprise was the main part of his present.
He took a second to take her in. Mussed red hair cascaded over her shoulders, one of his old T-shirts serving as her nightshirt. She looked natural, she looked incredible.
Gibbs had fallen a little in love with her that first day they spoke, always believing she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever met. He had no idea. As he wife, she was beautiful, as a mother she was breathtaking.
He could spend hours watching her with Kelly, from the day their beautiful daughter had been born, watching her cataloguing every milestone in videotape and photograph, her laughter as Kelly had taken her first step, her glee as Kelly's first word was "ma."
There was something about seeing her as a mother that had changed him, had deepened their marriage.
His head snapped up, his ears heating. He'd been so lost in thought that he'd ruined his own surprise.
"Hey," he said, knowing his grin was a mile wide.
"Hey?" she replied from the doorway, racing into his arms and kissing him deeply. Little hands took the card and flowers from his and put them on the picnic table.
"What are you doing home?" Shannon asked as they came up for air and Kelly launched herself into his arms.
"Had to see my girls." He tucked a strand of her hair back, watching her, knowing he looked like a lovesick puppy. "Happy Mother's Day, Shannon. It's not much but—"
"You're here, it's the best gift ever."
The sun was brightly shining as Gibbs parked his car and made his way through the gravestones. When he got to his destination, he smoothed a small brush over the stone, cleaning away dirt and leaves and dirt, before he dug a small hole in the moist soil and planted his flowers there.
"Hey, Shan. It's me… It's Mother's Day and I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for being the best mom imaginable to Kelly. Thanks for taping the things I wasn't here for. Thanks for showing me the love between a mother and child. You…you made me a better man."
He pulled out a small photo album, a scrapbook of sorts that contained the visual representation of their family. Shannon and Kelly on a merry-go-round, the three of them at the beach, one unguarded moment when his girls were watching each other, their eyes sparkling with love.
An hour later as he prepared to leave, he stroked his hand over the inscription of her name. "You were born to be her mom. Happy Mother's Day, Shannon."
Abby looked around the kitchen and winced. She had been trying to cook her mother a special breakfast but she'd been up all night studying for exams and somehow she'd misplaced the salt and sugar and she must have used Olive Oil to cook the beignets 'cause they were the most awful things ever. And the kitchen was a disaster. When Gloria got back to church, there was gonna be hell to pay. You never messed with a Southern woman's kitchen.
Abby took a long pull of her ever-present Caf-Pow and wrinkled her nose. She wished she was Samantha from Bewitched so that she could just twitch her nose and fix it all, but magic was a scientific impossibility, like everyone knew that. She'd have to make do with some old-fashioned elbow grease.
Abby was hip deep in cleaning when the door opened and Gloria walked in. Her mother's expression was comically horrified for just a moment, then she sniffed and let out a half snort, half laugh.
Happy Mother's Day, Abby signed. Café du Monde? At least their beignets have sugar in them. Mine are way too salty!
Don't ever try cooking again, Gloria signed back, proud tears in her eyes. Thank you, Abby.
Her mother gave her a big hug and Abby sighed and snuggled into the embrace. Her mom was the best.
Abby sank deep into the fragrant mud and giggled. It was squishy in all the wrong places, but this was beyond cool. She was here with her mom, having a spa weekend at one of the new and exclusive hotels in town. Ducky had managed to get them in even though things were booked up months in advance ,and it was sheer bliss.
Mom, you okay? Abby signed with muddy hands.
Gloria nodded, beaming her approval. They'd been polished and massaged and manicured and pedicured and pampered all weekend and Abby wouldn't have it any other way.
Happy Mother's Day! She signed, knowing how lucky she was to have her mom in her life.
Teenaged boys didn't think it was cool to spend Mother's Day with their parents, but Tim didn't mind. They'd have lunch at the Officer's Club and then maybe go for a drive. As long as Sarah didn't start whining, it would be an awesome day.
"Tim?" his mother called and he abandoned his computer and the world of his Leisure Suit Larry game to see what she wanted.
"What is this…thing?" His mom motioned to an email and an attachment. She wasn't really computer savvy, but Tim and his dad were getting really used to the computer services that allowed them to dial in and use message board and even get electronic mail.
"It's a Mother's Day card. Here…you click on this…" Tim moved the mouse over and clicked and the picture opened. He'd taken some clip art and combined it with some of her favorite sayings. He thought it was kind of cool.
"Oh, Tim," his mom said, a hand to her mouth. "James…James come over here."
When Tim's father didn't immediately move, both he and his mom looked up. "James?"
"Oh, sorry. I was just reading…" He waved a sheaf of papers. "Horrible story. Local marine's wife and daughter were killed along with an NIS agent a couple months back and now the marine is in a coma over in Kuwait." He ruffled Tim's hair. "We need more people at NIS like you, Tim. Know you're a genius but…"
Tim blushed, shaking his head. He wasn't any smarter than anyone else. It was kind of cool that his mom was working at NIS now, but he wasn't cut out to be an agent or work intel or whatever Mom and Dad did there. He wanted to build defense systems.
"James, stop rambling and look at what Tim sent me." His mother gestured to the screen. "Can we print it out? That is just beautiful."
"We sure can. Well, done, Sport."
"Happy Mother's Day, Mom!"
Tim knocked on the door as a courtesy. Mom and Dad went golfing a lot. There were some perks to having a condo on a golf course. He knew they'd earned it. And with Sarah almost ready to graduate from college, they were doing more and more retired people things, even though they were only in their early sixties. Both had part-time jobs, having retired from the forty-hour-week grind a few years ago.
"Timmy!" His mother threw the door open and gave him a big hug, looking at him curiously. "Don't tell me you drove all the way down here on your weekend."
"Mom, I used to work at Norfolk. We drive down here all the time for work," Tim said with a self-conscious laugh. "Anyway, it's Mother's Day and I wanted to spend time with my favorite lady in the whole wide world."
"Oh, where is Abby then?" his mother teased and he blushed darkly.
"She took her mom to a spa. I'm spending the day with mine. See how normal we can be?" He placed a wrapped present in his mother's hand.
"Rock Hollow finally? Seems awfully thin, Tim."
"No, but I should have the advance copies of it next week. Just something I've been working on for you, Mom."
She tugged him inside and he breathed in the scent of Death by Chocolate cupcakes—his favorite. Oh yeah, she had known he was coming.
"Poetry? Timmy, you wrote a book of poetry for me?"
"Yeah," he admitted, blushing. "Happy Mother's Day."
"This is the second most thoughtful present I've ever received. Remember that email card you sent me all those years ago?"
"Donald, are you aware that it is Mother's Day today? A day for all mothers? Whatever shall we do?"
Ducky had just come off a fifty-hour shift, working with Gibbs, Langer, and Burley on the case of three dead petty officers. These things never seemed to happen in singles, not when they could happen in groups. All Ducky wanted to do was sleep, but there was such a thread of hope in his mother's voice. He could probably arrange for a brunch somewhere and get in a nap in a few hours. What were two or three hours in the grand scheme of things?
"Ah, so it is, Mother. And you're not ready for brunch yet." He couldn't help smiling when her face lit up.
"Be a dear, will you, and let the dogs out. I just have to powder my nose."
After five minutes, after the dogs were back inside, Ducky's mother still hadn't come downstairs. He went up to her room to find her and when he did, she was holding a framed photograph of them. "Donald, look. You were such a beautiful boy." Her hand came up to stroke over his cheek. "You still are. And such a talented doctor."
Ducky's face warmed and he gathered the elderly woman in a gentle embrace. "Enough of that, Mother. Are you quite ready to leave?"
"Yes, dear, yes. Don't let my memories hold us up any longer. But you were a beautiful little boy, Donald."
"I know, Mother. Happy Mother's Day."
Ducky walked into the nursing home at just after three, a stack of dvds in one hand, a portable player in the other. Timothy had helped him get together a collection of all of Mother's favorite shows and He knew she would appreciate what she remembered.
The ladies at the front desk greeted him with welcoming smiles and he nodded at them. Mother's room was at the end of the corridor, a sunny single that faced a western exposure.
"Mother?" he asked as he entered the room. She was sitting in her chair, looking out the window. A gliding rocker had been brought in and she loved the easy motion. It seemed to soothe her.
"Donald?" she asked, confusion giving way to a beaming smile. "I've missed you!"
Ah, so it was to be a good day. She was lucid. The change in medications seemed to have done her very well, and even though her bad days outweighed her good, she had hours of awareness, rather than moments. It was bittersweet, these brief snatches of clarity. "I missed you too, Mother. I've brought you a present for Mother's Day."
"Oh, you did? They gave me a carnation. Did you see?" She gestured to a small plastic vase that held a simple flower.
"Very nice," Ducky said, powering up the machine. "One of the young gentlemen I work with has made you some of your favorite programs. Jeopardy, some of those wrestling matches you like so much."
"Oh, how wonderful," she said, clapping her wrinkled hands just once. "That was very kind of him. Thank him for me, will you, Donald?"
"I will, Mother. What would you like to watch first?"
"Oh, never you mind about that. Tell me about your day." She paused then, her smile softening. "You were such a beautiful little boy, Donald."
"I know, Mother. Happy Mother's Day."