Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day -- Maybe

My wife is sick -- which may be a good thing because a stomach virus will help keep her from thinking about Mother's Day.

Her own mother no longer remembers who she is.

Younger Son is going through grave problems -- the best way to describe it is to say "he's a teenager" and leave it at that.

Older Son is now stationed in Europe. Next stop for him will be Iraq -- so we are hoping that this son, who is far from home on this Mother's Day, will stay where he is.

For Older Son, being stationed at an Air Force Base in Europe is an adventure.

He called today to wish his mom a happy Mother's Day. "We went to Amsterdam last weekend. I'll email you the pictures. Not this week, but two weeks from now, we're going to Switzerland. And not the next week, but two weeks from that week, we go to Paris. And then not the next week, but two weeks after that, we go to Italy. And then not the next week, but two weeks after that, we go -- well, we'll figure out something."

After his mother hung up and rolled over to go back to sleep, he and I talked about how likely it is that he will be Iraq soon. That part of the conversation is not what you want to be talking about on Mother's Day.

Well, a lot of other Mother's have it worse.

Today was a great day in worship, and we mention Mother's Day -- but we don't make a big deal of it here. We ask the newest mothers to stand and be recongnized. Same for the grandmothers and greatgrandmothers.

I looked around the Sanctuary --

Paul's mother is in Iraq.

Quincy's mother died just a few months ago.

Rachel lost her baby just days before she expected the birth of her first child. Her pain is so great right now.

Sally is so happy today -- her first Mother's Day as a mom.

Terry has three kids, all Marines. I don't know where the oldest is right now, but one is in Korea and the other is in Iraq. She may not even be able to receive a telephone call from any of them today.

And then there is me, the "Apostle John." I tried to think of how long Mom has been dead. I start with "Hmmm, must have been 10 years." But no. Oldest Son was born after she died. So I think, "Must be 23 years" -- but that can't be right because that is how old my son is.

It has been 25 years come July 13.

Can't be that long.

But it is.

That's almost half my lifetime. I think about that for a moment. I calculate at what point in time my mother will have been dead for half of my life. Then I wonder why I did that.

I think this is one reason I have turned toward flower gardening in recent years. I feel Mom and Dad close to me when I'm outside playing in the dirt. I stand with a hose and water, and I can see my Mom doing that. I prune the roses, and I see Dad at work doing the same. And when I head back into the house, I can almost hear Mom say, "Don't you track in that mud into the house."

Some holidays are supposed to be joyful, but they also have the power to evoke sadness.

I think that is fine.

Some things ought to be so precious to us that the loss or absence of them ought to be reason for sadness.

But within that sorrow there should be wonderful and joyous memories.

While wife is sick in bed, I think about those memories and slowly savor them like a fine wine.

A family vacation.

First day of school.

Cooking a big Thanksgiving meal.

A joke she once told me.

I'm interupted by the phone. "Is that Oldest Son calling again?"

Nope -- it's Oldest Son's girlfriend. She was calling to wish my wife a happy Mother's Day.

She's the first one of Oldest Son's girlfriends to do that.

A reminder, I suppose, that families go on.

I wonder -- just how long will it be before there might be a wedding.

My thoughts turn from recalling the past to envisioning the future, and I begin to slowly savor each speculation like a fine wine.


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