Mother(s) and Daughter(s)

I got Mama’s unspoken message when she gave me Ruth Bell Graham’s book of poetry, Sitting by My Laughing Fire, and alerted me to page 167. As Mother’s Day approaches, my thoughts have returned to her, and I looked up the poem. Gifts from Mama to grown daughters were both scarce and significant. The message was striking at the time, but has acquired greater meaning now that another generation has rolled around:

       “May she have daughters
       of her own
       when she is old
       and I am gone.
       I should have loved
       to care for her once more
       as I did then
       long years before.
       I was a mother young
       and she – my child.
       Caring was joy. So when
       she is old and I am There,
       may she have daughters
       of her own
       to care.”

Mama was then a good many years from needing care from her daughters and even more from being There. My daughter was still a child at home. I knew her real message didn’t have much to do with taking care of her. Her emphasis would have been on the joy of her caring for me when I was the child. Her unspoken message was, “Now that you have a daughter, you understand the joy a mother has when she does things with and for her daughter(s).” Mama had no experience with sons. I think she might have guessed that caring for them was different but equally joyful.

The time came when Mama was old and did indeed need that care from her daughters, but that special my daughter Anna, her daughter Marissa, and merelationship had preceded it by many years. As this Mother’s Day approaches and she is There, I connect back with her even as I connect forward to my daughter. I’m grateful that she, too, has a daughter and will understand the message.

This Sunday I wish mothers of daughters – and those equally important sons – a very happy Mother’s Day.