Obviously, I have never been a Mom. An active parent, yes. But never the carrier of life. Never the partner with flesh torn in process of giving birth.
I am reminded of the Billy Collins poem, “The Lanyard.” In it he describes himself as a boy returning home from camp and presenting his mother with a woven plastic lanyard.
‘Here is a breathing body and a beating heart/
strong legs, bones and teeth and two clear eyes to read the world,’ she whispered./
‘And here,’ I said, ‘is the lanyard I made at camp with a little help from a counselor.’
And on and on. The mother gave him thousands of meals, clothing and a good education, taught him to swim and nursed him when he was sick.
The poem ends:
‘I was as sure as a boy could be/
that this useless thing I wove out of boredom/
would be enough to make us even.’
I asked some of the mothers who work here at the Times to share some special Mother’s Day memories.
One had a child born on Mother’s Day. Another’s child was baptized on her first Mother’s Day.
“One memorable Mother’s Day gift was when Samantha and Andrew fixed breakfast and brought it to me in bed. It was uncooked macaroni & cheese with my favorite staple, Tabasco sauce,” remembers Tam Tin Tang. “They were seven and eight years old. We still laugh at the memory.”
And there are those odd, but precious, gifts.
“My favorite Mother’s Day gift was the pink Power Ranger figure my then-4-year-old son, Chris, gave me,” said Fran Mannino. “He gave himself a yellow Power Ranger so that we could play together.”
That son is now a designer of video games at a firm in Austin, Texas.
“When my kids were in preschool and elementary school, they made all the ‘homemade’ lovely gifts that you never knew quite what to do with,” recalls Marianne Fuhrmann. “I used to smile and cringe and just say ‘thank you.’ Now I miss those special gifts they were so proud they created with their own two hands.
“When my sisters and I all became mothers ourselves, and we would spend Mother’s Day Sunday with our own families, just “the girls” would take my mom out for a special lunch on Mother’s Day Saturday,” added Fuhrmann. “I miss those special days now that my mom is gone.”
My mom is still with us. She is something of a shadow of her former Sunday dinner-serving, perfect-pie-baking self. I will head to Kansas this weekend to be with her. We plan to take her to the small family church 16 miles from the retirement center where she lives, but doesn’t quite recognize.
The men of the church are to be serving Sunday dinner.