Don’t Send, Take Your Love to Mother
Send her a dress for Mother’s Day. She’ll be pleased you didn’t forget. For she can still remember when feed for livestock was chosen on the basis of the patterns adorning the sacks in which it came. Many years, and tears too for that matter, separate feed sack garments from the dress she’ll get for Mother’s Day. But send it anyway. She’ll love it.
Send her a flower for Mother’s Day. It will arrive in a plastic pot with bright tinfoil wrapping. She’ll be happy to get it. Chances are the florist’s offering will evoke an image of other flowers, in other days; of bright yellow dandelions and once gay but now wilted violets clutched tightly in the grimy paw of a little boy who whispered shyly, “I picked all these just for you.”
Send her a book for Mother’s Day. Maybe one of Jesse Stuart’s about her home country down in Kentucky. She’s still able to read, you know, even does the crossword puzzle in the paper every day. Inside the front cover you could write, “Happy Mother’s Day, 1985.” And as she looks at the words perhaps she can remember teaching her little boy how to read long before he started to school. The King James translation of the scriptures was their textbook, and she read from it those sonorous and majestic phrases aloud daily to him even as he was learning to talk.
Could be that the love of language, the sheer exciting joy of words is born within. Or perhaps it’s acquired by a baby who hears the Word read aloud by one who loves it – and him. So send her a book for Mother’s Day. She’ll understand what you’re trying to say. For mothers always understand.
Send her a box of candy for Mother’s Day. Better make it the kind with soft centers. She’ll appreciate the gesture…even if she doesn’t have much appetite left for sweets these days. As she nibbles at a piece of soft chocolate, perhaps the image of a battered old cake pan full of fudge will make her smile in remembrance. It wasn’t always easy to squeeze out the extras needed to make candy, the Carnation cream and the sugar and the butter. It was an infrequent and very special treat.
Perhaps the ornate box with special Mother’s Day wrap will make her think once more of long ago happy days. The family all snuggled around the hearth, lit and shadowed in regular pattern by flickering flames from the open grate filled with smoldering coal. Each small piece of divinity was savored to the utmost. Send her candy by all means.
Send her a fruit basket for Mother’s Day. Time was when fruit meant apple and peach butter and plum preserves and canning pears. But do dispatch for her a basket carefully wrapped in cellophane, containing highly polished pieces of fruit anyway. It will help her remember, too, the sheer delight which came in one exceptional year for plums, when the purple clusters on the tree over the bank caused limbs to droop dangerously low. A little boy picked them by the bucket and peddled them through the coal camp for the first real money he ever made. They were 15 cent per bucket, were those plums. He made all of 75 cents. So, yes. Do send some fruit.
Send her some tape cassettes of great historical performances…Will Rogers, maybe. Or General MacArthur’s address to the Congress after Harry Truman fired him as commander-in-chief. She may smile to recall tears flowed with his final quotation about, “old soldiers never die.” And as she listens it also brings to mind how her creation of a public speaker – forcing a little boy, over tearful and violent objection, to participate in every school play, every oratorical test, every church pageant, every possible opportunity which a coal camp of 300 doughty souls possessed to afford performances.
“Public speaking doesn’t bother you at all,” they say. Of course not. How could it, with training like that? So be thankful. And send her a cassette or two.
Or send her a microwave oven for Mother’s Day. As she inspects with quizzical eye the elaborate electronic controls, it could help her to remember the stove on which she cooked in the Blue House. That frame domicile was so named because of its faded color, and how much cold its non-insulated walls let in through the dreadful winter of 1932. The stove was an antique cast-iron coal burning job, which had one leg missing as a result of the move from Kentucky to West Virginia.
Whatever was employed for the missing leg – rocks, bricks, chunks of wood- collapsed on a regular basis. Over the stove would tip with tremendous crash, causing the tiny coal camp house to shake and quiver as if caught in the throes of an earthquake.
It might even bring a laugh out loud for her to remember the day when her husband was asleep after his night shift at the mines, and she was trying to scrub black coal dust from the front porch.
Suddenly feet slipped from under her on the soapy boards, and down she went with a not inconsiderable thud.
“Did that damned old stove fall down, again, Reba?” came sleepy inquiry from the bedroom, as children rolled on the floor in paroxysms of glee. Oh, yes. Send her a microwave.
And of course for Mother’s Day, send her your love. She knows. Mothers always know. Better yet – don’t send it. Take it instead.