Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Tribute

Well here it is, Mother's Day. And here I am, resting in a small town just outside of Bellingham, WA, missing my mother in the most surprising and profound way. I'm not usually inclined towards homesickness, and especially not now, when I'm finally out of Utah and finally in a place where I can start to build something, where I can realize my full potential. But on a day set aside for honoring the noble women who sacrifice everything, I can't help but add my voice to the praise.

My mom is the single most important influence in my life. She raised me to value language, books, education. She set me on the path of knowledge that I follow today. She taught me about the gospel, the difference between right and wrong, and how to foster intelligence while maintaining high ideals. Her example was one of love, and service, and constant dedication to family. Even when I couldn't see my own potential my mom always did, and always had faith in me to be better and to do great things. I am so proud to be her daughter.

Whenever I try to put into words what my mom has done for me, or how grateful I am, it reminds me how woefully inadequate any statement is. Nothing can summarize the role of mothers. And then, after feeling helpless for a bit, I remember the poem "The Lanyard" by Billy Collins.

The Lanyard - Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

I don't think anything can ever make us even, Mom. Thank you for everything. Know that I am thinking of you. You are amazing. You are so full of love and talent and warmth. I admire you and love you so much. Once again, I'm grateful that you are my mother.

1 comment:

David's Holla Atchya! Blog said...

Did you move permanently to WA?