It’s time to celebrate our mothers

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 5/10/19

I’ll be visiting my mother on Sunday, giving her a few things I hope will make her happy and feel appreciated.

She enjoys candy and crosswords, so my wife and I got her some milk chocolates and …

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It’s time to celebrate our mothers

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I’ll be visiting my mother on Sunday, giving her a few things I hope will make her happy and feel appreciated.

She enjoys candy and crosswords, so my wife and I got her some milk chocolates and a paperback book of puzzles.

If our roses, which are in peak bloom now and looking pretty, can hold their beauty through the end of the week, we’ll pick some and create a colorful bouquet of homegrown flowers for her.

And to avoid crowds ahead of any last-minute Mother’s Day rush, we went card-shopping last weekend, finding a suitable one with sentiments not too saccharine, but sweet nevertheless, and a price tag appropriate for such fleeting use.

We may add a few more items to the Mother’s Day gift package before our visit on Sunday, but we could shop from now until the end of time and still struggle to find tokens that truly encapsulate and demonstrate complete appreciation for the wide scope of a mother’s essential role in our lives.

I know a little bit about being a father, but unable to walk in a mother’s shoes, I can only use my imagination as to what motherhood really feels like.

But I value one clue, in particular, that offers me a little insight into the mystery of motherhood.

In a shoe box full of photographs somewhere among the other mementos in my mother’s house, an old black-and-white photograph, circa 1967, communicates in a subtle way volumes about my mother and, I think, all mothers.

Taken at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham (then called the N.C. Children’s Museum and, to the wonderment of several generations of youngsters, boasting large plaster replicas of dinosaurs), the photo captures a pudgy me — not long past toddler stage — lying on my considerable belly and peering over the edge of a wooden foot bridge spanning Ellerbe Creek. Just outside of the frame of the picture is my mother, visible only by her forearm, her hand clutching one of my baby fat-swollen ankles to prevent me, the youngest of her three children, from rolling off the bridge and into the drink.

Although I’m the primary subject of the picture, that captured moment in time, for me, is an illustration not so much of my fat little self but of my mother’s enormous love and caring. Without fanfare or thanks or anyone giving her instruction, she’s taking action to keep me safe.

The picture used to irritate me. How much cooler, I used think, it would be to have a picture of me, in all my youthful daring, looking precariously and unencumbered into the vast (six-foot) drop below, without my meddling mother’s arm messing up the effect.

But I got over that a long time ago and now I see, and value, the picture for what it shows me now.

Most of us, I believe, have been fortunate to be raised by mothers who, like mine, always had our best interests at heart, staying out of our way as much as possible so we can experience the world, but still holding on as long as possible to protect us, as mothers do, from the many hazards the world offers, including short drops from bridges.

I read today that Americans will spend $25 billion on Mother’s Day gifts this year, as we sons and daughters attempt to honor our moms. My small amount of spending on cards and crosswords won’t put much dent in that amazing monetary figure.

But I don’t think it’s tangible gifts my mother — or any mother — is looking for on Mother’s Day. Such stuff is nice enough, and necessary, but it isn’t the promise of flowers in the future that keep our moms clutching our ankles to shield us from doom.

They do it because they love us. And the best thing we can do is love them back.


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