by Father Mark Goldasich
“What? No way!” “This Sunday?” “Are you sure about that?”
Since these are some of the comments I’ve heard over the past couple of days, I’m starting this column with a public service announcement: Drop everything — Mother’s Day is definitely this Sunday, May 8. I know, I know, it seems “early,” but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the second Sunday of the month, the time designated to celebrate this special person in our lives.
Some folks who haven’t forgotten that it’s Mother’s Day are the retailers. My e-mail in-box has been flooded with all sorts of ideas for gifts for mom. Besides the usual flowers and chocolates, these sellers are offering everything from giant dipped fancy berries to a fairy house planter to shoes with a “versoshock reverse trampoline sole” to a “buttery textured leather two-strap smart phone case that’s caressably soft.”
While it’s wise and fitting to get some thing for your mom, don’t let that overshadow what’s most important. The sentiment is captured well in a country song from the late ‘70s, recorded by both C.W. McCall and Red Sovine. It isn’t so much a “song,” as spoken lyrics with music in the background.
Entitled “Roses for Mama,” it’s about a man who’s on his way to Florida for a vacation. While on the way, he realizes that it’s his mother’s birthday. He calls and, when she asks if he’s coming by, he says that he’s really pressed for time, but will drop in on her in a couple of weeks.
The man then goes into a florist’s shop to wire his mom a bouquet for her birthday. While there, he encounters a little boy who wants to buy some roses for his mother, but he only has a dime. The boy explains that he hasn’t seen his mom in a year and that he’s living with his grandma. He wants to get five roses for his mom, because that’s how old he is. The man tells the florist to put the boy’s roses on his bill. Excitedly, the boy runs from the store with his bouquet.
As the man drives away from the florist’s shop, he passes by an old cemetery and is surprised to see the little boy kneeling at a grave with the five roses in his hand. The man pulls into the cemetery and asks the boy what he’s doing. The boy explains that this is where his mother stays now and that he comes here all the time to talk to her and, on special occasions, to give her flowers.
The man immediately turns around, drives back to the florist shop, and asks if his mother’s flowers have been sent yet. When the florist says “no,” the man tells her to cancel the delivery, because he’s decided to take the flowers to his mom in person.
It’s a nice little song with a valuable lesson: Often the best present we can give to those we love is to be present in their lives. That’s especially true — and needed — in our overly busy culture. I’m amazed at how, even when we’re with someone today, we’re not really present. How many times have you seen people interrupt a conversation with a real-live person sitting across from them to take a call or sneak a peek at a text that just came in on their cell phones?
Maybe the greatest gift that we can give to one another these days is simply to genuinely be with one another . . . without distractions. I think that moms are a great place to start this practice.
On Mother’s Day, if you’re lucky enough to have a mom who is still alive, do all that you can to spend time with her. And if your mom is not alive, pick someone who has been “like a mom” to you and spend time with her. Don’t forget the card and gift, but remember that what is most important to your mom is your unhurried and focused presence. Turn off your cell phone and leave it in the car during your visit. We once lived quite well without these instruments; we can relearn to do without them for a time each day, especially when in the presence of those we love and care about.
And don’t let your Mother’s Day attentiveness be a one-time deal. Schedule regular times for meals out or to celebrate special (and even not-so-special) occasions. Be creative in finding “excuses” for these face-toface encounters. Maybe even give your mom a homemade coupon book, good for items like a walk together in the park, a shared ice cream treat, a “deep cleaning” of some room in the house, or tickets to a play or movie.
So, why are you still spending time reading this? Put the paper down, grab some roses and go see your mama!