May 11, 2022

Mother’s Day 

    My apologies for missing a few weeks there; I caught a bad cold and suffered a companion case of writer’s block, if there is such a thing. Sometimes a blank page feels like a mountain I face, freezing winds cutting into my cheeks, hardened snow crusting around my knees, and the mass of the mountain rising before me, insurmountable.

     But I’m climbing.

     Mother’s Day is just past, and I want to tell you a quick story. Years ago, when my son Patrick was in high school, he spent little time at home. He was struggling to figure out who he was, and he wandered the roads of our town on his bicycle, sleeping over at a friend’s house frequently, spending time with certain people who worried me, and wearing a fixed expression on his face that said, ‘Don’t ask.’ I felt certain I had lost him, and often, I wept with sorrow. 

      Time passed, Pat went off to college, and I went to work in an office, after years of working as a reporter and writer at home. I didn’t hear from him for some time, despite repeated phone calls and emails. Then, early one morning while checking my email, before anyone in the office had arrived, I spotted a note from him. The subject line read, “To My Mother.”

       The body of the email contained a poem by the Kentucky poet Wendell Berry. The title of the poem, appropriately, was the subject line: “To My Mother.”  I don’t think I have to tell you that after I read the following words that singular morning, I wept once again, visibly, and while all my colleagues were arriving to work. But this time the tears were for joy.   

       Enough said. To every woman who is a mother, or who has mothered anyone in her life – which is just about every woman I know – this is for you.

To My Mother

I was your rebellious son,

 do you remember? Sometimes

 I wonder if you do remember,

 so complete has your forgiveness been. 

  So complete has your forgiveness been

  I wonder sometimes if it did not

  precede my wrong, and I erred,

  safe found, within your love,

   Prepared ahead of me, the way home,

   or my bed at night, so that almost

   I should forgive you, who perhaps

   foresaw the worst that I might do,

   and forgave me before I could act,

   causing me to smile now, looking back

   to see how paltry was my worst,

   compared to your forgiveness of it

   already given. And this, then,

   is the vision of that Heaven of which

   we have heard, where those who love

   each other have forgiven each other,

   where for that, the leaves are green,

   the light a music in the air,

   and all is unentangled,

   and all is undismayed.

– Jane

For a prompt this week, write a letter to your mother, no matter if she is still with us or not. Be honest, be kind, be prosaic or poetic. Share it with someone. If you’d like, share it with me.