Happy Mother’s Day

Published 8:47 pm Saturday, May 12, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of family.

With the approach of Mother’s Day, it’s natural to consider the influence my own mother has had on my life. I am an only child, with a mother who has generously and unselfishly sacrificed for me all my life.

Growing up with two parents who were completely present in the hard work of molding my development, as well as a grandmother who lavished affection on me, I never really had a concept that there were people who had a completely different experience in life. Today, I’m old enough and have seen enough to know how truly blessed I was.

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As I write this column, my wife is taking care of our grandson, who just fell off a bike, scraping his hand, his knee and even his nose on the pavement at a campground in Williamsburg. He’s looking a little green, and he’s apparently decided that he’s done riding for the day.

And I’m taken back to a rainy day many years ago, when I crashed head-on into a friend as we played chicken on our bicycles in a flooded Portsmouth street. I don’t remember what happened to my friend, but I recall the pain of my own cuts and scrapes and — even more vividly — the love and attention my mother paid when I came to the door, sobbing as if, perhaps, I’d lost an arm in the incident.

There was another time when I crashed my bicycle into a tree in Williamsburg. And another time when I smashed into a car door. Now that I think of it, maybe that’s why I don’t ride bikes anymore.

Watching my wife tend to our grandson, I’m overwhelmed by the instinctual love of a mother. As a grandpa, I feel more suited to making sure the boy doesn’t panic over the blood and pain of a few scrapes and cuts. Grandma, however, is soothing and practical at the same time. It occurs to me that she’s so much better at this than I am.

Soon, our grandson’s wounds will heal, and not long after that he’ll probably forget about the whole incident.

For me, though, this little tableaux has wrapped up the essence of Mother’s Day, and I suddenly find it necessary to call my own mother and thank her for kissing those little boo-boos, for gently cleaning my wounds and for giving me such selfless love and attention for all those years. I might not need her to kiss away the hurt anymore, but I find there are still many ways that I need her, even today, to show me the love that only a mother — or a grandmother — can show.

Happy Mother’s Day to my dear mother, my wonderful wife and all the mothers who have picked up and comforted young boys hurt while doing dumb things.