Tomorrow is Mother’s Day which will, as it does each year, provide a bonanza to Hallmark Card vendors, chocolatiers, florists and the nicer end of the local restaurant trade. But for those of us of a certain age, Mother’s Day is a day to remember the departed.
My friend Allen said to me after the passing of his mother, “Once a man’s parents are gone, nothing stands between him and the edge of the world.” Not even Allen stands between me and the edge now, but I keep him in my life by remembering his words. And those words remind me to remember those who built the world which is my inheritance.
In a letter to Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton wrote: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” But giants are few. Like most people, I see as far as I am able to see by standing on the shoulders of (among others) an ordinary, decent, well-meaning and hard-working woman. As far back as records go there is nary a giant in my line. And that’s OK by me; I can see just fine.
I live in an ordinary village, carved out of the woods by common women and men who came before; my church is the inheritance of 200 years of pretty good singers and preachers and pot-luck chefs, and a million kindnesses spread across the years. I work at a radio station built by ordinary predecessors who shared a mission and a vision.
I reckon that all the time Sir Isaac was straining his brain, ordinary folk–women mostly–were taking care of the ordinary business of his living.
We have finally come to a time when the Sir Isaacs of the world are just as likely to be Dame Isabelles, and we’ve gotten there in no small part because of women like my mother, who took their hard-working selves out of the home and into the defense plants of WWII, and into the stores and colleges and businesses of the ’50’s and ’60s, with the modest goal of building better lives for their families.
That’s got to be worth a card or a bouquet or a nice dinner. It’s got to be worth remembering.