Glancing back

As adults, we often look back and gain a new perspective of our parents. In this article, the author sums up her view of her mother. Mother wasn't one for wishes. She took in stride what life provided, letting details find their place in the grander scheme of things. And so in raising children she didn't fret over changing fads and styles. Hemlines, makeup, even types of boyfriends that paraded through the door didn't ruffle her equilibrium.

She watched the birth of rock-and-roll as it gathered momentum in our small hometown. Rolling cow pastures gave way to subdivisions and parking lots. The drugstore soda fountain and Andy's popcorn shop next to the old bandstand were replaced by fast-food stores.

Life was getting slick and loud. But Mother saw in people their ability to accomplish and prosper. Behind the endless flow of pumpkin pies and cookies that fed the stream of kids passing through our house was her quiet knowing that each child had a special purpose and value.

I didn't understand this wisdom as a teen-ager. More important were music, drive-ins, dancing, football games, and who would be homecoming queen. We felt the '60s provided a unique vision that set the course for what was significant in life. The Beatles sang to us about ourselves in new tongues, and Elvis got our bodies and our parents' heads shaking.

Except for Mother. She was not afraid of those seasons of progress. She welcomed vitality and spirit with quiet trusting. She knew we had been given values that endure and had been surrounded by the encouragement to stand up for them. And even when we stumbled, she had the grace not to overreact.

Years later, amid the happy preparations for my wedding day, I heard one of Mother's few laments over what life had wrought. Shaking her head, she sighed, ``My only regret in sending you into marriage is that you don't have a good game of tennis.'' Not the usual mother-of-the-bride stuff.

Perhaps she sensed that those few words would take root in thought and later lead me into a game that she too had enjoyed. Without pushing or condemning, she found a way to bring out the best. She knew that not all blossoms open overnight. Mother waited.

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