February 18. The day will never not send a chill up my spine, when I think of what happened on this day, 19 years ago. I have told the story of what happened that day in blogs prior, so I will spare it from being repeated, but there are some things on days like this that qualify for repetition. And so, I will repeat a letter that I included in one of those past blogs. It is a motherly variation of a letter that Paul Harvey recited on a broadcast nearly 30 years ago, a letter than was originally shared by a fellow named Dr. Jack Schreiber of Canfield, Ohio, on the occasion of Father’s Day. A few years back, I decided to take what Dr. Schreiber had written, and translate it to someone who has lost their mother. Although I do not have children of my own, and though my mother has not been gone as long as what is in this letter, it nevertheless resonates soundly with me, and, if you struggle with the loss of your mother, may you find some comfort in this letter as well. From here onward, I will be quoting.
I am writing this to you, even though you have been dead for 30 years. Whether you can read these lines, perhaps you can read my thoughts. But there is still some things I need to say, even if it’s too late.
Now that my own hair is gray, I remember how yours got that way. I was such an ass, mom……..Foolishly believing in my own teenage wisdom, when I know now I would have benefitted most from the calm, right, wholesome wisdom of yours.
Most of all, now that I have children of my own, I want to confess my greatest sin against you: The feeling I had, for which you did not understand. Though when I look back now, I know that you did understand. You understood me better than I did my own self……How patient you were, and how futile your efforts to get close to me, to win my confidence, to be my guardian angel were. I wouldn’t let you. I simply wouldn’t let you. What was it that held me aloof? I’m not sure, but despite my best efforts, my own children had to build the same wall between them and I. And there’s no way I can climb over it or go through it, and what a shame, what a waste.
I wish you were here now, across this table from me. There’d be no wall now. We’d both understand, now. And God, mom, how I do love you, and how I dearly wish I could be your companion again. Well…….maybe that day isn’t far off. I’m guessing you’ll be there, waiting to take me by the hand and lead me up the further slope. I’ll put in the first thousand years or so, making you realize that not one pang of yearning, not one morsel of thought, not one second of worry you spent on me was wasted, it all came back, and it all paid off eventually.
I know that the richest, most precious thing on earth and one of the least understood things is that mighty love and tenderness and that everlasting craving to help that a mother feel toward her little ones. But none of her children can realize this until the roles are reversed. Even now, mom, I’m tired, weak and longing, and would hasten to join up there in the Great Beyond, except for my children…….They’re all fine, sweet, caring and upstanding young ones, all very capable, self-sufficient, highly talented and loving toward all. But, mom, I reckon I’ll stand by a little longer, to help them along, and to watch them shoot for the moon and land among the stars, and to be there for them, if they ever need me. You understand.
Your loving child
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