Mother's Day

A long time ago, maybe 40 plus years, I was born. I was born during a blizzard and an earthquake. In the time that has passed since, I have learned several things:

  • We as little human spawns of our mothers can never truly repay the woman who gave us life. 
  • We as little human spawns of our mothers can never understand how they feel about us.
  • We as little human spawns should be grateful to our mothers (and step-mothers).
I understand very well that a mother doesn't always have to be the one who "gave you life," they can also be the one who prepared you for life. I fortunately have both, I have a mother who gave me life and prepared me for life and I have a mother who prepared me for life. If I had to believe in blessings, I would I probably call this arrangement a blessing. My father prepared me in different ways as well, but it is my mom and my step-mom who worked to make me more human. It might be surprising to some that I am indeed a human. I myself have a wife and we have created our little spawn. Thus continues the ever progressing march of DNA, it's mission to survive passed from one generation to the next. 

The following poem is my favorite poem of all time, fittingly it is about a young boy feeling that he and his mom were on equal terms. I first heard this poem when I was driving around randomly some years back, I believe it was in May 2008 (Mother's Day?). I drove up to Estes Park and was working my way into the Rocky Mountain National Park, thinking up a plan on how to bring my mom and my step-mom here. My step mother had come to RMNP back in the 70's, thus, I felt it would cool to bring her back here. My mom had never been, my father, I'm not sure, he drive over 10,000,000 miles in the US it seems. 

Sure as sure can be, I don't know if I have ever tried to repay mom with a lanyard. 



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-clothes on my forehead,
and then led me out into the air 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-toned 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.

The Lanyard by Billy Collins


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