My mother used to give me a card on Mothers’ Day. “You and your brother and sister made me a mother,” she would say, “and I am so thankful for you.”
She didn’t need to give me a card for me to know that, as I have lived each day of my fifty-two years in the light of her love. She will often say when I do something she doesn’t like, “I raised you better than that,” and she’s right.
How could I ever repay that kind of love?
The Lanyard by poet Billy Collins tells the story of a boy with the same struggle. One summer he wove a lanyard for his mother at camp. The closing stanzas slay me as the mother offers her gift and the boy his:
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift – not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-toned lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.
In honor of Mothers’ Day this year, I decided to record a song for my mother that I first wrote twenty years ago, when I was thirty-two. I can’t play it or sing it any better now than I did then. But I do love her more.