CHILD IS MOTHER TO THE WOMAN When a boy considers his mother, so many images come a jumble in his head. So many sounds as well. I am no different from any man, forever a boy when he remembers his mom. I remember laughter in her eyes and wonder in her voice. For this man who is forever a boy, a mother is forever a girl.
A mother is life when the world is young, true testament to all that is and all that yet may still be done. A son never forgets dark words that can’t be undone. We were standing in the kitchen, always the place where our conversations cooked. We were making meat loaf. Celery, and onion, some salt pepper, breadcrumbs and memory. Two eggs and some ketchup on top of the meat in a bowl mixed together with a squeeze of hands, unforgotten.
Sons say stupid things. That they yet live after saying them is a greater miracle than birth. My hands were mixing the eggs and the meat in the mess in the bowl. I recall the smell of lilacs in the air. Our house in early always smelled like lilacs in the yard. This might have been the spring when the forsythia waited and the lilacs paraded, something my mother said would never happen again. Forgive me while I savor the wonder. It could never happen again. Pause. Or it could. She would always pause a moment and then laugh. A boy remembers his mother as the pause of possibility and the laugh.
Sons say stupid things. This one, with his hands in the meat in the eggs and the bowl, said to his mom at the stove, with the smell of lilacs and forsythia in the air: If you were doing it now, don’t you think would be a doctor, not just a nurse?
A mother takes the stupid things a son says and puts them in a box. The stupid box. Every house has a stupid box overflowing with the stupid words a son says to his mother. My mother didn’t have to tell me what I said about doctors and nurse was the stupidest thing she had ever heard. But I remember now she lifted those words and lifted them lightly into my stupid box.
I was never a Joe or a Joey, always Joseph. Joseph, she said. Pause. When my mother would pause, her eyes flashed like stars the night they were first hung in the sky. Doctors care mostly about money. Nurses care about people. Doctors may make better money. Nurses make better people. What you care for, who you care for, makes you who you are.
So a son today remembers his mother, the child of wonder in the night sky, the mother of laughter in his days. Always a woman majestic, forever the girl child found in the boy man. The child is mother to the woman.
The Heretik wishes a Happy Mother’s Day 2005 both to women with children of their own as well as women who otherwise bear good witness in this world.
For those who have forgotten, the painting appreciated here is Renoir’s Girl With a Watering Can.
Joe Ivory Mattingly is curious how you remember your mothers today. So share your love and wisdom. Please comment freely. As always, poems and songs offered are most appreciated. Thanks
Today March 20 is the last day of Winter 2005 (or is it the end of Winter 2004?) Glorious Spring begins tomorrow. Spring, glorious spring, I have waited for you at some air port terminal where all the flights are late. Spring, glorious spring, I long to see your face.
Spring, glorious spring. The calendar reminds us of the importance of what grows. The calendar reminds us of what grows within us all. Glorious hope unvanquished. Undiminished even in the darkest night.
Spring, glorious spring. The calendar reminds us of the importance of women since time immemorial. Women are people in whom both great children and great ideas can grow. Spring, glorious spring, I have waited for your touch. I have longed for your wisdom. Spring, I find your wisdom in your symbols. What is spring but the time of Easter? What is Easter now but one culture grafting its hope onto the hopes of other earlier pagan peoples in Easter.
Hope, glorious hope favors no people, no culture over another. Hope belongs to no one. We belong to hope.
Winter will return soon enough. Its symbols of discord and death already surround us now. Winter's voices are loud and unyielding in their argument. Who has patience has hope. Or is it who has hope has patience? No matter. What resides within us, within our hearts, endures. What endures within wins, if not today, then tomorrow. Or the day after that. We belong to hope.
ABOUT JULIE RABB:Julie Rabb is a gifted horticulturalist who works her magic in The Children's Garden and The Four Seasons Garden at The Red Butte Garden. She gives her wisdom freely. She belongs to hope.