MANY holidays bring families closer throughout the year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter each offer clan gatherings with food, fun, and friendship. For our family, Mother's Day was also special. Mother's Day always included a trip from our home in Montgomery to Tallahassee, Ala., to visit my maternal grandmother and gather together her family. What made it even more treasured was that for most of my life, she was my only grandmother.
I remember times over the years that I presented my own mother with gifts either bought or made. She treated each one as a special treasure, and now, with children of my own, I realize how precious gifts from a child can be.
As I've grown older, Mother's Day has become even more meaningful. The family house where I grew up is gone. When it was sold, my parents moved to another section of Montgomery, their relocation and settling in seemed to take forever.
Long before that, our family had actually spread across two states. I married and moved to Florida. So did my sister. My brother left home, moving to west Alabama to begin his own life. As children mature, it's inevitable, but in its own way a bit sad.
As each Mother's Day approaches, I always try to show my mother how much she has meant and means to me. At times, when money was tight, I may not have gotten her the special gift she deserved. Even with all the money in the world, I could never present her with a tangible expression of what she has done for me.
I always remembered to send a card, and make a call on Mother's Day no matter how long it took getting through Ma Bell's lines.
Looking into the mailbox one May Saturday, I was surprised to find a letter from Mother. Mentally I confirmed that I had, indeed, remembered to send a Mother's Day card this year. I was relieved to realize at least I hadn't forgotten. It was a heavy envelope containing a lengthy letter. I began reading and realized what a prized gift this letter was.
Addressed to all her children, it was a sharing of wisdom that my mother had gained throughout her life: Wednesday p.m. May 9 Dear Wallace, Pamela, and Paul,
The usual thing to do as Mother's Day approaches is to be thankful for your mother, and think of some way to show your appreciation for her. And indeed I am.
I remember Mama and the many things she did for me - for all of us - out of a spirit of love, that made my life more enjoyable even during the hard times that we experienced as we were growing up.
But this afternoon, since I am at home alone, and have been doing some thinking, I would like to say to my children what a joy it has been to be a mother. Thanks for your love during all those growing-up years, and I hope for many years yet to come.
When Wallace was born, I was the happiest mother in the world. Nothing could describe the joy and fulfillment I felt. Then when Pamela was born, I thought how wonderful - a boy and a girl! God has so richly blessed us. And when I became pregnant again with Paul, I thought how greatly God is blessing us. We are going to have that family I have always wanted. And I do think that it was, and is a great family. Now with a grandchild to love and carry on the name, we are blessed again - in a grand way.
I have always been proud of each one of you and your special abilities. I only hope that you will use your minds and abilities to please God and to reach the potential God gave you. Just remember that you and you alone are responsible for fulfilling God's plan for your life. And with God's guidance, I know that you can do this.
As I experienced motherhood, I came to appreciate my own mother more and more. Although only one of my children will possibly experience motherhood, hopefully all three will experience parenthood, I would like to share some of my thoughts with you.
I am proud to have the memories of all the happy days we spent together as a family. I can truthfully say that that stage of my life was the most rewarding and fulfilling of any of my experiences.
Even though there were times when we were so busy and the pace seemed hectic, there was a satisfaction and happiness that cannot fully be expressed - only felt. Especially those years when all of my children were safe in the circle of our love and care.
There have been many times recently that I have missed the sights and sounds, the hustle and bustle of life on Mulberry Street. Maybe that is one of the reasons that it took quite some time for me to become accustomed to our home on Federal Drive. It didn't have the same memories and meaning. I couldn't remember seeing a little footprint here and there and hearing a little voice call out.
Of course, there were other days, too. Days that were not as pleasant as they could have been. When I look back I can see that we made many mistakes as parents. Maybe I wasn't as understanding or as gentle as I could have been. Or maybe I was a little too strict and should have been more lenient. On the other hand, there were times that I wish I had waited until you were older to allow certain privileges. So we made some good decisions and some not-so-good. But at the time, even the bad decisions were made with your interest in mind, and I sincerely thought that I was doing what was best for each one of you. That you will have to accept. After all, the foresight and understanding of a 26- or 30-year-old parent is not the same as the hindsight of a parent with grown children.
Although there are many things that I might do differently if I had the years to go over, there are some things I hope that we both gave you and taught you that you will always have. One thing is love and reverence for God, a respect for God's house, and a belief in the Scriptures. Another thing is the importance of truth and dependability. And next is love and respect for your parents, for your siblings, and for yourself.
The Bible teaches that Christian parents should teach their children the laws and precepts of God's word and seek the salvation of their children and kindred. That I have tried to do. What a joy it was to see each of you accept Christ and be baptized. And now that each one of you is grown and of age to be accountable to God for yourself, you will have to answer to Him for your own actions and your example as a Christian.
I did not intend for this to be so long. Now I want to end this letter with a joyful note. Thank you for the joys of motherhood, remember the true and the worthwhile things we have taught you, and forgive me for my mistakes. God bless each of you. With much love, Mother