Letter to a Mom a Long Way Away

Dear Mom,

Just before you passed away, I told you I would always keep you close. And then asked you the same, and you said, “You better believe it!”

And now that’s almost Mother’s Day, and I can’t figure out the postage necessary to send you a card and flowers, I wanted to write you this letter.

You and I have never had a problem talking. Maybe that’s because you were always so willing to listen. Listening, you taught me, is a big part of talking. That’s the kind of “mom lesson” we could all benefit from listening to.

And even though I am writing this letter to you, but it’s not just for you. It’s also for me. And it’s also for a lot of other moms. Other moms who share with you the sisterhood that comes from giving birth, and giving, and giving, and giving.

I’m writing because I want to say not only out loud, but also in print, what needs to be said. I love you. And I’m proud of you. And I’m surely proud to be your child.

If that makes you feel good – good! It sure made me feel good to know that whenever I came home, you would be there. Be there not to attack and question me – although you did ask more than a few questions – but be there with a cup of tea, and love, and wanting to listen about how my day had been, how the night had gone. I can still see you sitting there at the old kitchen table in your bathrobe with your head resting in the palm of your hand. You would let me go on and on about where I was going to go in life or was afraid to go, and I thought you were the most wonderful woman in the world.

Over the years, I’ve made some of the journeys I once only dreamt of. I’ve seen much, including a great deal of my blindness, and you know what? I still think you’re the most wonderful woman in the world.

When I give speeches I remind audiences that wisdom is where we have the wisdom to find it. And then I say: “My mother worked behind the counter at Woolworth’s, and she’s the smartest person I ever met.” I know you’ve achieved much beyond working at a five and dime but the real accomplishment is how much you’ve achieved from how little was given to you. Some people are born on third base and think they hit a triple. You lost your mom while you were an infant, were raised in an orphanage, and somehow had the courage of character to discover that the way to be loved is to be loving. 

Love you taught me is an act of faith. And it was you who also taught me that when we lose our way in life and love, it is often because we first lose our faith.

One of my early memories was of a plaque you put up in the apartment that you must have gotten from some curio shop. No matter how many times we moved, that sign was among the first things nailed to the wall. The message says as much about you as it has ever taught me. “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

I suspect that some people might find that corny. But caring is as important as any accomplishment, and I’m proud to be the student of the woman who taught me that. 

What I learned from you is that we do not kiss our children so they will kiss us back, but so they will kiss their children, and their children’s children. Still, here are some kisses for you, some “thanks” over time.

And if you want to know if I still think about you, and miss you, and am close to you, you better believe it!

Deeply blessed to be your son,