Your mother has ESP. She’s terribly aware of the terrible things you’ve done. When you are in places you shouldn’t be in and doing things you shouldn’t be doing, your mother knows. Not the details. But she’s aware of a small stitch of pain in her side that wasn’t there yesterday. A little headache that came on suddenly as she thought about you. She might have to take a pill for it.
Look what you’ve done to your mother. Maybe you should change your scandalous ways before you send her to an early grave or force her to take double the recommended dosage of Advil. It’s not too late. Other sons and daughters have not given their mothers such phantom shooting pains and headaches. Be like them.
I have tried to be good. When I have not been good, I have at least been honest about not being good. I have never run away from the scene of a crime. So, I think that should count for something. I have never been good at gift-giving. It’s true that all the gifts I have given my mom have been selected and purchased by my lovely wife, and I merely rubber stamped them. “Yes, that’s lovely,” I say. “Oh how perfect,” I exclaim.
Sometimes I have forgotten to call so that my sister calls me up the next morning very early. “Why do you not love your mother?” she asks. “I do love my mother,” I state emphatically. “Do you really love your mother?” my sister asks again for emphasis. “Yes. I really do,” I say. “Then why didn’t you wish her a happy birthday?” This is her punchline, and I have no good response for it.
The truth of it is that I was probably somewhere I shouldn’t have been doing something I shouldn’t have been doing and forgot all about my mom’s birthday. But when my sister’s scolding has subsided, I immediately pick up the phone and call. I am not perfect, but I am all about seeking forgiveness and redemption. I am ever hopeful of redemption. Especially from my mother. If she cannot forgive me, who will?
I am habitually late with birthday presents for my mom on top of not picking out those presents myself. This is not a good quality. I will freely admit that. Testify in court to it. Be convicted. Allow a sentencing. Serve my time with no protest.
I am doing fine in the frozen north, living well in New York City. But I need to return sometime soon to the warm South and my mom’s warm embrace and all the things we have ever known and cherished there.
The church bells and the hand bell choir with their blinding white gloves at First United Methodist Church in Salisbury, North Carolina. The Christmas Cantata program at the church with its beautiful winding train of candleholders singing gloriously that my mom was always keen to get me to attend. The fragrant cow pastures and rolling hills of the Piedmont. The mural near Main Street that celebrates life as it was way back when ladies had parasols and men wore top hats and dressed well on a regular basis circa 1900.
The Civil War Cemetery that goes on for miles (65 acres in fact) and the historic homes that line the way to church with their beautiful architectural flourishes I never appreciated as a child. The lattice work, the columns, the wrought iron handrails and so on. The grand Fourth of July celebration at Faith where a former American president once stopped and played a game of baseball. You say he didn’t play a full game. Just enough for pictures. And that sounds about right.
All these things I must and will return to soon. Because they are a part of me and you, mom, and we share them together like bread at the table before blessing. This, of course, is all to say that I am once again late this year with your birthday present that my lovely wife picked out. And that I love, you mom. But, most importantly.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!