by David G. Woolley
Mother's Day is nine months away which means I qualify for the early-bird brownie points offered by a Washington think tank underwritten by Hallmark. It's a very long paper trail, but after some serious investigation I made the connection between Hallmark and the "Sell More Greeting Cards" lobby. I did remember, without any help from the think tank, Hallmark or the Greeting Card Lobby, that Mother's Day falls in May. And to make sure that last sentence didn't end up as the mother of all errors in the comments section of this blog and to avoid having to explain my calendar impaired sieve-of-a-mind, I looked it up. Isn't the Internet a useful tool? So many facts, so few insecurities. I usually wait until I trip over the five gallon buckets of roses booby trapping the aisles at Wall Mart on the eve of Mother's Day before my Neanderthal gift-giving flight or fight reflex kicks in and I crowbar open my wallet to get a little something for my angel mother.
* An asterisk is a weak word choice for a disclaimer, but then few of you knew that this little guy (*) was a word. You may be surprised to find out that crowbar was reported in last month's edition of the New World Dictionary online version to be both a noun and a verb which means that if I were editing something you wrote, you'd never get away with sneaking the ly adverb crowbarly into your manuscript. I'll buy a Cafe Rio enchilada style burrito with mild green sauce (very yummy), wrapped in one of those humongously (darn, another ly adverb) deliciously (darn) made from scratch wheat tortillas to the first writer who sneaks the locution "he said crowbarly" into your next submission without getting caught by your editor.
Mother's Day falls on Sunday May 11th next year, but for my mother it marks a full year and a half anniversary of a journey I never thought I'd observe. I'm not a busy body. Fiction writing has forced me from my comfortable modus operandi "mind your own business" world view (something I learned from my mother along with wearing clean socks, taking off muddy shoes outside, washing behind the ears and eating everything on the plate) into something of a people watcher. Writing about others requires studying the object of the pros, but in those childhood years before writing forced me from so much self absorption, I was the focal point, the man in front of camera, the ring master, the magician plying his disappearing trade. And when the house lights came up and I appeared from behind the olive green drapes stage right to find the theatre empty, there was always mom, sitting on the edge of the sofa, observing every nuance of the living room performance. I distinctly remember her peering through the chain link fence of the high school athletic field. Tickets were an extravagance, but there was no fence that could keep her from supporting her children.
No matter how bungling the effort compared to the works of abler hands, no matter how novice the talent when laid alongside the masters, no matter the failures or faltering strength or loss of nerve I, with my brothers and sisters, were never abandoned to the forgotten masses because mother managed to do what God does. It has been a long time since she held me on her knee and ogled a smile from my lips, but she still watches from the wings, offers wiser council than sometimes I'm willing to admit, and she marvels, and oh how she can marvel, at our very existence, making her children the object of her work and her glory.
In a world that rewards so generously the merits of a life dedicated to professions and corporations, achievements and renown, I was reminded again this week of the nobleness of motherhood. Mother has walked alone for nearly a year now and I watch from the wings her struggle with loneliness that I can only imagine. She stops by the grave nearly everyday. Tells dad all the detailed doings of the family while adding that she knows he already knows what she's telling him, but she couldn't help but share it with him at the end of another day on earth--alone. She also tells Dad to spook away the grounds keeper and keep him from carting off the flowers she leaves behind until they've seen the best of their days.
Bills frustrate her. Extended warranties confuse her. She's not fluent in the language of oil changes, tire pressures or indoor plumbing. And the house work of two, now done by one, is a burden of the heart as much as for the shoulders. It is in these soul-searching sacred moments where the wine of ancient prophecy finds fulfillment in new bottles and turns the hearts of the children toward their father's and the hearts of the father's towards their children.
Happy Mother's Day Norma Anne.