Updated: June 13, 2013 6:01PM
They hold and comfort us when we are sad. They love us when we are bad. They are there when we need them, with a cookie or a hug. Even when they hurt or are weary, they have time for us. It is a thing we call love.
That’s what mothers do. And a million other little acts that help us through stormy times. Too late, sadly, some of us remember. Too soon, sadly, some of us forget.
Most mothers, I think, ask not what we can do for them but what they can do for us. We owe them.
Wherever they are, even if they have gone, they may be touched by this special day. Wherever we are, we should be touched by memories about mothers.
Later this month, war memorials will be special places across our land, including the World War II Memorial dedicated in 2004. Our great country is dotted with commemorations of our wars. There is nothing glorious about war, but each one brings out valor, bravery, unselfish sacrifices, pain, death, sorrow. And stark reminders of human failures. A part of our history.
In every war, big or small, mothers weep, wondering while they wait. Will their loved ones come home to peace? Many do not come back and mothers continue to weep, even while they feel pride.
There is a stark difference in wars, despite the awful similarity. Only a relatively few of us who served in WW 2 are still around. We may remember our mothers’ tears when we left. Only years later did some of us realize that mothers also serve, in some ways, in every war.
In that war almost every home or family was touched — the country was united. Mothers knew other mothers and wept with them. They shared their sorrows and pride. If there is such a creature as a “popular war,” this was it.
Wars that have followed were just as hellish, but touched by a divided country and confusion over that big word “WHY.” But the anguish that wounded so many mothers who waited back home pierced their souls just as deeply and cost lives just as dear as in other wars.
Mothers are caught up in these human failures and suffer not physical wounds but the indelible scars of sorrow. We owe them. Not on just this day.
Our fighting presence today in strange far off places touches us all in some ways, but only a relatively few homes and families directly. We read and hear about the fighting, but many of us do not feel connected. But ask the mothers who wait and wonder back here in our safe havens. They are connected from heart to heart and they weep silently, hopefully as their men and women come home confused, maimed, changed young people. They deserve our respect.
It is hard to separate the politics and guns of war from the mothers who wait for it all to end.
Whether a war is big or small, it is a cauldron of sacrifice and suffering. From Mothers Day to Memorial Day and beyond we should wonder if we humans can ever do without the guns of war.
In my wide-awake dreams I can hear, faintly but clearly, mothers singing in beautiful unison these lines from words written for the majestic melody of Finlandia:
“… My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight too and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine
O hear my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.”
Praying and longing for peace. That’s what mothers do.