It is not gratitude, my child, I ask,
Nor do I seek to make my will your own...
No, do not thank me now, but think upon
Your childhood tenderly when I have gone....
Its been 11 years since Ive shopped for a Mothers Day card, or wrapped a special gift to honor the woman who gave me life. Though I stored many good memories of our half-century together, there was a time during the early years when assorted illnesses and too many babies too fast kept her from occupying the primary nurturing role in my life. But Im living proof that Gods promise to supply all your need according to His glorious riches.... (Philippians 4:19), is true, even if that need is for someone, at least for a while, to take a mothers place.
Mothers Day - I laugh when I recall the first time I heard that term.
Everyone I knew called my grandmother Mother, so I thought the day was set aside especially for her.
My grandmother was the most important person in my young life. Though epileptic and married to a less-than-ambitious man, she bore eight children, kept house without most of the conveniences we call necessities today, and always had time for me.
Every dish in her cupboard reminded her of a story, which she told patiently as I washed the heirloom or rummaged through the shelves for the subject of another tale.
The daughter of an itinerant preacher, she also told me of the houses and towns where she lived, the people in her life, and my favorite subject of all, what it was like to wear all those petticoats under long, confining dresses. When the dishes were done and the stories told, she also taught me how to play the piano and, as a special Sunday treat, let me sit proudly beside her as she took her customary place on the organ bench at our church.
I idolized my grandmother and wanted to be just like her. I did go on to play the piano and become a church organist, but it was the person she was, not what she could do, that I wanted most to be. I have no illusion that Ill ever have her patience, attain her level of endurance with lifes lot, or become nearly the idolized influence in my own grandchildrens lives, but I do see some similarities.
Perhaps my experience isnt that unusual, but I know I spend more uninterrupted time with my grandchildren today than I did with my own children when they were small.
Children seem more important to me now than housework or my own concerns. I realize I cant undo the past, and perhaps Im magnifying the need to do so, but I was supremely comforted when I read recently that A grandmother is a mother whos been given a second chance.
Im sorry my children had so little contact with their grandparents. One set died before they were born, and our military lifestyle kept us from living near the others. Visits, letters, and phone calls were ineffective substitutes. Progress and upward mobility in our generation have their drawbacks. Loss of the nuclear family is one of them.
Mothers Day, I know now, is a day to honor all mothers - and grandmothers, other relatives, and all the special, nurturing people in our lives who at some time and in some way had a part in molding us into the persons we are today.
And today, this Mothers Day, I'm thankful I still have children who will call, come by, or in some other way let me know I didnt flub the whole maternal role. But Ill also receive a hug or two from little ones who dont know about all those earlier mistakes, and who let me know theres still time to tell a tale or teach a tune to those "second chances" God has given to me.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara@ aol.com.)
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