For my mom on Mother’s Day
He remembers when he was two or three, sitting beside the woman as she read him a story. He can no longer remember the story, just the feeling of love and security that encased the experience and held it safe for him, like a golden strongbox in his warehouse of memories.
Perhaps love is like a childbook story read once upon a time.
He remembers mornings—not afternoons, for some reason—when, still too young for school, he would pile pillows upon pillows to build himself a palomino like Trigger. Countless mornings he would ride off into the Wild West of his childhood fantasies always knowing that lunch or a hug or a raisin cookie would be waiting at the end of the trail.
Perhaps love is like the nightherder who calms his restless cattle with a song.
He remembers one morning when his horse was a warm silver-painted radiator, which in mid-gallop grew suddenly hot and frightening. He can still see the child dismounting in panic and falling in such a way his leg became stuck between the coils. How strangely calm and unafraid his voice sounded as he called to her, “Mommy. Mommy.” He can still picture her running into the room and rescuing him, her fear and pain upsetting him far more than the burning flesh on his calf.
Perhaps love is like a mirror where the one rescued fears more for the safety of the rescuer than his own.
He remembers darker moments, as well. How she hated getting up in the mornings, and in consequence would allow some strange angry creature to take control of her body and mind. It never took long for the evil potion to wear off, when miraculously the other woman—the woman he loved—would return in time to make his lunch, give him an egg nog and send him off to school.
Perhaps love is like the moon, always shifting from light to dark, and back again.
He remembers the days of pain, when his father lay dying in their house. There were no boundaries for emotions then; his were hers and hers were his. The fear, the hurt, the giving and the taking, were all thrown into a communal pot and the only thing one could do was watch to see the brew didn’t spill over. It was then that they fought, not in words but through needs. And his need to spare her was never as resolute as hers to spare him.
Perhaps love is like a desert flower that blooms with the slightest drop of moisture.
He remembers so much that the images crowd his mind and fight for attention. Cub scouts, Hebrew school, weddings, picnics, summers in the mountains, family vacations, high school days trailing into college semesters. Boyhood passing into manhood. Motherhood drifting easily into grandmotherhood. Rites of passage for both as they traveled over the smooth and rocky terrain of their lives.
But never did she stop being a mother. Not once would her own comfort or interests take precedence over those who she loved. And she loved no one more than she loved her children.
Perhaps love is like a mother hen that never stops pecking around her chickies.
Looking back, he can see that Nature pulls the cub away from the lair to protect the mother and child, to free them from a bond so strong it could strangle the very life force it was meant to protect. And now, as the woman he loved for all those years lies still, as the mama he took for granted, who would love him like no one else on the planet ever would, has gone on to her final remove, he sits alone at the computer giving shape to images left behind after a lifetime of being loved by this woman. They are images filled with smiles and gifts and laughter and tears, tossed about like scattered playthings in a room held sacred in his heart.
And he thinks to himself, Perhaps love is like a lost child who, searching through the crowd, finally finds his mother.
Then again, Perhaps love is like a mother.
And lastly, Perhaps love is like my mother.
Thanks, Mom. You were the best!