Mother?s Day

Posted: May 09, 2005 12:00 AM
Recently my mother was in town visiting. The visit was wonderful and calming, taking me away from the busy workaday schedule, and reminding me about the truly important things in life?family, friendships, human interconnectedness.
The visit was also tinged with a weird sense of my own mortality. Upon picking my mother up from the airport, I gave her a great big hug. The scent of her scarf immediately took me back to my own childhood. Weird, the way sensory perceptions can trigger such deeply imbedded memories.
I drifted back to my youth, when my mother nurtured my growing awareness of the world around me.  She was fond of taking me on spontaneous walks on the farm, up the dirt road, around the ponds and through the center of town. These walks were among the great treats of my childhood. Each stroll around the farm with my mother was an act of adventure and discovery.
With careful emphasis she would point out an enormous yellow bird strolling across a field, or a dusty rock that glittered with mica. My eyes widened with awe.  I was grasping the very largeness of life in those moments. Such simple pleasures exist on an awesome scale to a child. She was showing me the world. 
My father was a quintessential tough guy. He worked the earth, dragging tools across the fields every day of his life. He was built for work, and his massive hands and slow, methodical movements through the tobacco fields provided a sense of security. But he did not suggest the actual stuff of life. He worked the land, but he did not think about the actual vastness and vitality of the land. He was a man who spent his life burrowing forward.

But my mother?she had a sense of the spiritual. As someone who had given birth, and nurtured a child, she would always be tied to a deep source of life. I suppose most mothers must seem this way to their children?a deep and spiritual source of life. I suppose it is appropriate that, upon birth, we are literally attached to our mothers. The point was not lost on Aristotle, who once remarked, ?Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own.?  Perhaps what Aristotle meant, but was too cynical to say, was that our mothers are our first models of God:  while in the womb, our mother?s bodies are the geography of our existence. We belong to one another in a most primal, instinctual manner. Upon birth, the maternal instinct to care for her offspring nurtures this dependence. Mother and child continue to belong to one another. This unconditional bond?which can manifest itself as acts so simple as spontaneous bus rides through town--fills a child?s emotional needs. Through this bond, a child learns what it means to be cherished, learns about the world around him, and learns about humanity.  From such a bond, my character was born. With such memories fixed in my heart, I fondly recall Mrs. Thelma Williams, this Mother?s Day and throughout the year.