Sunday, December 24, 2006

For My Mother

I like my mom...a lot. Her father recently passed away and after sorting and cleaning and organizing all of his belongings, hoping to keep her own life simpler, she requested that we not give her "things" for I wrote this.

“Everywhere, They are Wisest”

You are my giving tree;

And I am the greedy—needy—little boy.

You give your shade, your fruit,

Bark, wood, stump,

So willingly.

And I take.

You give joy in the form of wooden toys and puzzles,

An inflatable clown named Bozo

You scrape down my wallpaper.

And I scrape to gather every bit of you that my memory can hold…

To savor when you’re gone and I miss your smell, your voice, and your help.

You buy dress shirts, but give Nate so much more than fabric

You give confidence and assurance.

When the self-sacrifice of stay-at-home motherhood and supportive-wifedom overwhelm me, I dial the numbers that my fingers know like memorized music,

And find a feather pillow where fear lands gently,

And is gradually absorbed in compassion.

You give sanity and peace.

It flows like a river, for a few days…then dams up in frustration and loneliness--

And I call.

And you are, again, a cistern of comfort

Giving your ears and your heart, made tender and empathetic by similar--

Startlingly similar—experience.

You give insight and perspective.

And I take.

Greedily, feasting on the wisdom of your life.

You give small business loans, literary inspiration,

Homemade granola that fills my stomach…

And my soul with the satisfying satiety of home.

You give at birthdays, holidays, every day

Taking precious little thought for yourself.

Like the words of a familiar song,

“Give away, oh, Give away…”



But wherever you go and wherever you’ve been

Everything and everyone is “greener…”

Leaves, branches…


My roots are made of all that giving—gone deep—taken hold.

Now generating new life,

I am a giver, too.

I've was thinking about giving. The title comes from one of the final lines of “The Gift of the Magi.” You have sacrificed so many of the things your heart could have treasured, on the altar of motherhood—and showed me that there is wisdom in doing it that way. Of all who give and receive gifts this Christmas, I think you are among the wisest. And I am among the luckiest to have been the recipient of such selfless generosity.

I love you.


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