A Mother Who Was Always There
Story by Danny Reagan, appearing in the Abilene Reporter-News, March 1985
This is probably August 1948, a few months after I was born. She was 20.
"A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success." -- Sigmund Freud
"What are Raphael's Madonnas but the shadow of a mother's love, fixed in permanent outline forever." -- T.W. Higginson
"A man never sees all that his mother has been to him till it's too late to let her know that he sees it." -- W.D. Howells.
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A few weeks ago, I had settled down for a rare afternoon nap when the phone at the side of the bed rang.
"Hello, Danny. This is your mother. I'm so excited ..."
I tried to say something, but I was astonished. Even though the voice was clearly my mother's, I knew the conversation was impossible.
Finally, as my eyes began misting over, I managed in a cracking voice, "Mom, talk to me." My words were barely intelligible.
All I heard after that was loud static. Then I opened my eyes. The only detail of my surroundings that changed in the slightest was the phone. I wasn't holding it; it was still on the bedside table. That's how real the dream had been.
This is the first Mother's Day I will spend without being able to send my mother a card, call her up or go see her.
Suffering from the flu in February, she entered a hospital in Sweetwater. She had a stroke early on a Sunday morning and died. Saturday evening, I was talking to her on the phone, listening to her tell me how next time she wouldn't wait so long to go to the doctor. Less than 12 housrs later, she was dead. She was only 57.
But this story isn't about my sorrow; grief touches us all, and I've been lucker
than many people in avoiding it. This concerns memories, time, love and an institution that has compelled saints, poets, heroes, villains and just about all of us to live our lives the way we do.
The first person who teaches us how to live is usually our mother. Our lives are put in order, or disorder, by much of what she does. Fathers play more of an important function in today's society fulfilling the role as "cultivator," but back in the '50s, when my generation was growing up, most of the fathers worked all day, and the mothers stayed at home with the kids. The "quantity time" full-time mothers devoted to their children back then gave them an edge in the "developmental" department, taking young blobs of highly energetic clay and molding them into children acceptable to society.
Today, the experts have devised the phrase "quality time" to allow all the working mothers (and fathers) to feel less guilty about the length of time their work keeps them from their children. It's not the amount of time spent with the children, they suggest, it's the nature of the activities shared during that period. As a working father, I hope the experts are correct.
As the quote at the beginning of this article suggests, a mother's pride can be a potent motivational force. If all the