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Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Remember Mama

I'm sure you won’t be surprised to know there’s over a dozen theories of the origin of Mother’s Day. They range from the ancient Greece festival of Cybete to West Virginia’s Anna Jarvis after the Civil War.

My Mom was special, just as yours. I mean, after all, where would you be if not for her? Okay, bad joke, but all mothers, real mothers and not simply birth machines, possess an intense, unique love for each of their children. It’s curious how there is no limit to a Mother’s love. She loves with all her heart, and when another child comes along, so does the love.

The only love greater than that of a mother is that of God’s, and hers is a mighty close second.

You know, poetry is almost a lost facet of literature. It’s a shame for some poetry contains nuggets of wisdom that are pure gold.

One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost. In his poem, “Death of a Hired Man,” a husband and wife argue over the return of their hired man, Silas, who jumped from farm to farm, but always returned to the home of Mary and Warren.

Warren doesn’t want Silas back because he is so undependable. Mary tells him, ‘he’s come home to die.’

“Home,” says Warren, “Is when you go there, they have to take you in.”

Mary replied, “I should have called it something you somehow haven’t to deserve.”
Every time I read the poem, I substitute the word, ‘Mother’ for home. To paraphrase Frost, ‘Mother is something we somehow haven’t to deserve.”

That’s true with me as I’m sure it is with you

Mom was a farm girl who, along with three sisters and four brothers, fed chickens, milked cows, slopped hogs, grained cows, pulled cotton, and any of another number of tedious farm chores from Montague County in North Texas to Wheeler County in the Texas Panhandle.

She was like all Mothers who put herself last. I wish I had a dollar for every meal she made for herself from her sons’ leftovers.

She was a true Texas girl, unwilling to back away from any challenge. When Dad was sent to Los Angeles during the war, she was right with him. From there it was Albuquerque, then Hutchinson, Kansas.

Finally, we returned to Wheeler when Dad went overseas. Mom planted corn on our five acres, harvested it, loaded it in the car, and drove to neighboring towns to sell it door to door. That we didn’t sell, we ate. She came up with dozens of ways to prepare corn.

There was no task she’d refuse to tackle if it had to do with the welfare of her children. I can’t count the number of jobs she held down, but always while we were in school. She was always home when we came in.

And, like all mothers, she was snoopy. There was nothing of mine private. I had no secrets. Fortunately, she never told Dad everything. Otherwise, I might not be here.
Of course, she thought her sons hung the moon, and if any other youngster proved to have more talent than Sam and me, she sniffed and said they were nothing but ‘shameless showoffs.”

One of the most valuable gifts she gave me was the opportunity to explore the world beyond the farm. That was all she had known, but through her travels with Dad, she realized there was a whole world out there for her sons.

When Dad had a job offer in the Fort Worth-Dallas area, she urged him to do take it. For me, it was like Bubba goes to town. I discovered worlds I never knew existed, worlds completely alien to rolling sandhills of the Texas Panhandle.

Mom wanted Sam and me to have the opportunity, and she didn’t rest until we had it.
I was fortunate to have a mother like that. Oh, we had our ups and downs, sometimes big ups and downs, but we managed to work through them to our own separate peace.

So, you can see why that whenever I read Frost, I think to myself, “A mother is something you somehow haven’t to deserve.”

She and Dad have been gone many years, but not a day passes I don’t think of them, grateful for their love.

Happy Mothers’ Day.