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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mother's Day*

*Johnstown, PA Tribune-Democrat  May 9, 2010
as "Mom Loves Us the Most"

Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey

A mother is the truest friend we have,
when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us;
when adversity takes the place of prosperity;
when friends desert us;
still will she cling to us,
dissipate the clouds of darkness,
and cause peace to return to our hearts.
~Washington Irving

On the day we were born, hers was the first face we saw. It was her voice we first heard speaking softly those words of joy and affection. And it was in her arms where we first found safety, solace, and love.

A mother is, bar none, the most influential, most dynamic force in a person’s life. There is no more powerful, resolute, or boundless source of love for a child, save God Himself.

"A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity,
it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."
-- Agatha Christie

She was tough on us, to be sure. But woe betide anyone who sought to do us harm. She laid down the rules and made sure we followed them to the letter. Through lesson and example, she taught us to be good persons. In those moments when our world crumbled, her arms would open. And when those arms closed around us, we knew we were safe from the worst the world could do.

The doctors told me that I would never walk,
but my mother told me I would,
so I believed my mother.
-Wilma Rudolph, U.S. Olympic Champion

Dad may have been the head of the family, but there was no question about who ran the home. She made sure we were up on time, dressed properly, fed completely, and out the door with a last kiss and an “I love you” to fortify us against the world. Her energy seemed without limits, and even on vacation, she was like a whirlwind taking care of millions of little details. Her only satisfaction was making sure we had fun.
She guarded us with a vigilance that seemed supernatural. Erma Bombeck called it “The three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have...One pair that see through closed doors. Another in the back of her head...and, of course, the ones in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and reflect 'I understand and I love you' without so much as uttering a word.”

When we became teens and our hormones were making life miserable for everyone, she was a rock. In the face of our worst tantrums, she stood tall and strong, refusing to give in. And with the walls still ringing from the awful words we’d say, she’d still load us in the car and take us to our games, practices, and school activities.

She was always prepared. She knew exactly the right thing to do.

“A mother is neither cocky, nor proud because she knows the school principal may call at any minute to report that her child had just driven a motorcycle through the gymnasium.” –Mary Kay Blakely

When the storms were raging, she was at her best. Nancy Reagan once said, “A woman is like a teabag. Only when in hot water do you realize how strong she is.” In those moments when it seemed the world loved us the least, Mom loved us the most.

We made her angry. We also made her cry. But she was always proud.

And we could never make her stop loving us.

She never stopped teaching us. She never gave up on us. Every moment was a stepping stone to our future.

"When I was a child, my mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general. If you become a monk you'll end up as the pope.'
Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso."
-- Pablo Picasso

Even as adults, she was still the fount of profound wisdom. We knew she would listen carefully, respond judiciously, and restore us completely. Erica Jong wrote, “Motherhood cannot finally be delegated. When a child needs a mother to talk to, nobody else but a mother will do.”

On Mother’s Day, we take the time to honor them for the tremendous sacrifices they made. But there’s no way we could really reward them for all they did. They don’t make diamonds that big, or flowers that beautiful, or candy that sweet.

But on that day, we will spend time with them, hug them, and tell them “I love you, Mom.”

And that will be gift enough.

(But still bring the flowers!)
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