Bay Reflection
Message to My Mother
by M.L. Faunce

For my sister

This is not a political commentary, but around this time in the month of May, I'm reminded of the best comment I ever knew Ronald Reagan to make, certainly the truest. "We're never prepared to lose our mothers," he once wrote to a friend and White House associate whose mother had just died.

The president offered comfort by expressing something all of us know intuitively, but have a hard time defining - that we are connected to our mothers by a bond that is both permanent and intangible.

When I was in school, a nun put it this way: the father is the head of the home; the mother, its heart. While that view may be outdated in today's changing family, the significance of a mother's place in our lives is not. Whether we were raised by our birth mother or a caring surrogate, the ties that bind us are infinite - and infinitely complex.

For those of us whose mothers are no longer living, Mother's Day is sometimes bittersweet. The first Mother's Day after my own mother died was not as hard as the second, however.

That first year, I decided on the spur of the moment to fly to my sister's for a visit. What could be more comforting than to be in the company of this sweet woman? Ours is a relationship defined by the ease of finishing each other's sentences in those moments when needed most.

How could I be anything but cheered in the company of her three children, who had had such a special connection with their grandmother? Earlier that year, the youngest granddaughter had read to her Nana at bedside at Hospice. The strength of someone so very young and the patience of one so near God's door were extraordinary. A little girl who once described her grandmother as "soft and pink" also learned the meaning of courage.

The second Mother's Day, spent at home, was harder. That Sunday seemed a little like being in a foreign country on a national holiday and not being part of the celebration. We don't separate ourselves from situations so much as we sometimes just move to another seat for a while where everything looks different.

A radio program called Stained Glass Bluegrass offered unexpected comfort. We take solace whenever any expression seems genuine, as these songs did. If you haven't heard Hank Williams, Sr. sing "Message to my Mother," you're in for a soothing surprise.

The Mother's Days that followed, including this one, are spent like everyone else's: enjoying a day that celebrates a concept that can't be cloned. "A mother's love" is not a cliché: it is the tender care given us so that we, too, may learn the value of nurturing our own young. On Mother's Day, in person, or in memory, we pay tribute to the one person in the whole world who loves us unconditionally - whether we realize it or not.

Mother's Day can put a song in your heart or a twang in your song, if you're a bluegrass fan. It is a very good day to say - aloud or in the quiet of our hearts - "I love you, Mom."

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Volume VI Number 18
May 7-13, 1998
New Bay Times

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