Text and Photo by Henrylito D. Tacio
“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”
So wrote Washington Irving, called the “first American man of letters,” whose best-known short stories were The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle.
A mother is a different kind of woman. “In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess,” wrote N.K. Jemisin in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. “She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe.”
It’s not surprising that the first word for so many babies to utter is “Mama.”
“Perhaps it’s no surprise that, in many languages, children’s first words relate to caregivers,” wordgenius.com explained. “‘Mama’ and ‘dada’ (and similar variations) are the two most common utterances from babies. However, when a child first starts using these words, they may not mean them literally. A child may say ‘mama’ when they want food or comfort.”
There was this story about a teacher who had given her primary grade class a science lesson on magnets. In the follow-up test, one question read: “My name starts with M and has six letters, and I pick up things. What am I?”
The teacher was a bit surprised to find half the class answered the question with the word: mother.
No matter what happens, a mother is always a mother. “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world,” wrote Agatha Christie, an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. “It knows no law, no pity, it dates all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”
Meryl Streep is one of the most awarded actresses from Hollywood. But to her, the children are worth more than her Academy Awards. She is married to Don Gummer, with whom she has four children: Mamie, Grace, Louisa, and Henry.
“Motherhood has a very humanizing effect,” Streep said. “Everything gets reduced to essentials.”
Gilda Radner, another Hollywood actress, considered motherhood as “the biggest gamble in the world.” She added, “It is the glorious force. It’s huge and scary – it’s an act of infinite optimism.”
Robert Browning, an English poet and playwright whose dramatic monologues put him high among the Victorian poets described motherhood in this manner: “All love begins and ends there.”
Now, let me share a story of a motherly love, which was written by Herbert Berger:
For her, Wednesday evening was always special. She’d put on her good dress, put her hymn book into her handbag, and be off to the women’s meeting at the parish hall. Sometimes, she’d first have to clean the house and cook supper and do some laundry because she was away nine hours a day working at the spinning mill.
She had such rough hands but could caress me so wonderfully. And whenever she got back from one of those meetings, the next morning, I would have a nice piece of pie or cake on my plate. She’d always say that it was leftover – and so she took it.
Well, one Wednesday evening, my mother was again at the women’s meeting, so I ran off to the parish grounds. My father had nothing against it; he just kept on playing cards with his friends.
At the parish, I hid behind the bushes and peeped into the room where the women met. I saw my mother back in the corner. I could hear them sing, and I could pick out my mother’s voice. She looked so nice.
After the pastor’s little talk, the women gathered around and had some coffee and cakes. I know that there would always be some of that cake left over for me, and my mouth watered. And then I watched how my mother would go to the cake platter, take a piece and then carefully wrap it in some paper and put it into her handbag. The other women did not seem to notice.
Suddenly, I felt guilty for having seen all this. I had eaten so many pieces of cakes, and they were not leftovers; my mother had not eaten hers on purpose: just so I could have it.
I ran home but somehow did not look forward to tomorrow morning’s breakfast. I wouldn’t ever dare take another piece of that cake. What would I say tomorrow morning when she put that piece of cake on my plate?
But – I could not disappoint her; she only wanted to make me happy. So, I ate the cake; but it never tasted the same again. That was the way my mother was.
Mitch Albom once said: “I don’t know what it is about food your mother makes for you, especially when it’s something that anyone can make – pancakes, meat loaf, tuna salad – but it carries a certain taste of memory.”
There is no such thing as a mother of all seasons because a mother is always present in all seasons.
“May each of us remember this truth: one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God,” pointed out Thomas S. Monson, the man behind Pathways to Perfection. “Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”