It has been a long, long while since I’ve written you. You know me better than I know myself so I won’t make any excuses for the long delay. I get lazy and self-centered. Sometimes I fail to think past the next moment. Mom, I’m really sorry I don’t pay enough attention to you.
How are things where you are, Mom? Does Jesus talk with you everyday? Is it as pretty there as we think it is? I’m certain the valley is green and there is much rest there. I’ll bet there is a family reunion going on every moment of life there. Grandma Cecil and Grandma Frances are there. You’ve seen Grandma Lessie I’m sure. Did you get to meet Grandpa James Oscar? What is he like?
I’m pretty sure you can see all that’s going on here. Your boys are doing really well. Jimmy retired and so has Donny. Richie is still working. You’re right. He’ll probably being doing something industrious until the day the LORD calls him home. Buddy is making you proud. He is truly a stand-up guy. He’s got a lot going on in his life.
Aunt Jackie is as special as ever. When you went to heaven she stepped in to give us the comfort we needed to make it through those first few weeks and months. I think she missed you the most and we were a comfort to her. All that time is past now and we’re doing good.
I was remembering some childhood days. Do you remember when…?
Do you remember when I climbed the schoolyard swing set? How old was I? Five? Six? I remember I got to the top, but had no idea how to get down. You came to the rescue and talked me off that perch hands out to catch me if I didn’t make it.
Do you remember when I came down the slide headfirst and cracked my skull on the anchor post? That hurt! You were there then too. Six stitches and a few days later I was back on that slide. I still have the scar from that one.
Do you remember the day I “pee’d” my pants and tried to hide the evidence from you? You wanted to give me a spanking, but I outran you. We circled the couch and kitchen table three or four times. You started laughing and I laughed too. We laughed ourselves to tears. I remember the hugs and kisses.
Do you remember when I was barely good enough to be selected to play Little League baseball? You worked with me and tried to show me the little that you knew about the game. You were sitting in the stands during one game. I took my place in the batter’s box. The bases were loaded. Remember? The coach signaled from third to lay down a bunt. The pitch came. I moved my hand just a bit down the barrel of the bat. Like magic the ball hit the bat and rolled out toward first base. I ran and the players ahead of me ran. The defense kept throwing the ball away. There was the overthrow at third, the missed catch at second and the slide under the tag at home. I still see you sitting in the bleachers smiling. I never did say thanks to you for making that day special.
Do you remember Mr. Lisney, the Principal at Mount Rose School, swatting me with the paddle. I was more afraid of what you might do. I was in trouble for being a smarty pants and letting my mouth overload my a##. You came to get me from his office and I expected the worst. Either I was going to get your (should be) patented guilt trip or the switch. I prayed for the switch. I got neither.
Do you remember how much I loved you when you brought Buddy home from the hospital? You looked like an angel. There was an aura of love about you. I’d seen that before. I also saw it the day you went to heaven.
Do you remember the night I came home in tears because the girl I asked to go steady told me no? You quietly listened and hugged me close.
I remember all of those and so many more. Mom you are always there for me, Donny, Rich and Bud. Even from Heaven you’re there for us. I know you love us from Heaven probably more than you were able to love us here. I’m sorry for the heartache and fear I caused you. It humbles me that you never held my “badness” against me. I am grateful to our LORD for you. He knew you were the only mother that could handle me.
Do you remember the DeMolay “Flower Talk?” I gave that presentation when I was fifteen to you and about a dozen other Moms for a Mother’s Day treat. It was long ago.
My Brothers, you have just been permitted to take upon yourselves the name of one of the world’s most heroic knightly figures. Now you can say “I am a DeMolay.” To be deemed worthy of the privilege of entering into the comradeship of that great army of youth both here and abroad who have dedicated themselves to the ideals of Jacques DeMolay, demonstrates our confidence that the fineness of your purposes will guide your development into the highest type of manhood. To be accepted as a DeMolay is, therefore, an honor of which any young man may be justly proud.
In being received into our ranks, you have been instructed in the seven cardinal virtues of this great Order. We hope you have been deeply impressed with the lessons they teach. There is no better foundation on which to build your character and future life than the practice of these virtues. The Order of DeMolay teaches many beautiful lessons, but none is more important than honor and true respect for womanhood, and more especially for motherhood. It is fitting, therefore, that you have been called upon to stand again before this Altar in a few moments of special emphasis upon the virtue, which has been given first place among the jewels adorning the Crown of Youth – Filial Love.
For my purpose now, this Altar is dedicated to our mothers whose love never fails. You may rise to positions of great influence in commercial, political or professional life, but you can never reach the heights of your mother’s secret hopes for you. You may sink into the lowest depths of infamy and degradation but never below the reach of her love. The memory of it will always stir your heart. There is no man so entirely base, so completely vile, so utterly low that he does not hold in his heart a shrine sacred and apart for the memory of his mother’s love.
Were I to draw you a picture of love divine,
It would not be that of a stately angel
With a form that is full of grace,
But a tired and toil-worn mother
With a grave and tender face.
It was your mother who loved you before you were born – who carried you for long months close to her heart and in the fullness of time took God’s hand in hers and passed through the valley of shadows to give you life. It was she who cared for you during the helpless years of infancy and the scarcely less dependent years of childhood. As you have grown less dependent, she has done the countless, thoughtful, trouble healing, helpful and encouraging things which somehow only mothers seem to know how to do. You may have accepted these attentions more or less as matters of course and perhaps without conscious gratitude or any expressions of your appreciation.
You are rapidly approaching the time in life when you will be entirely independent of your mother. The ties with which dependency has bound you to her may be severed as you grow older, but the tie of mother-love can never be broken.
Thinking back upon the years of your life when you have reached the threshold of manhood, your mother might well say in the words of the poet:
“My body fed your body, son,
But birth’s a swift thing,
Compared to one and twenty years
Of feeding you with spirit’s tears.
I could not make your mind and soul,
But my glad hands have kept you whole.
Your groping hands
Bound me to life with ruthless bands.
And all my living became a prayer,
While all my days built up a stair
For your young feet that trod behind,
That you an aspiring way should find.
Think you that life can give you pain
Which does not stab in me again?
Think you that life can give you shame
Which does not make my pride go lame?
And you can do no evil thing
Which sears not me with poisoned sting.
Because of all that I have done,
Remember me in life, O son.
Keep that proud body fine and fair,
My life is monumented there.
For my life make no woman weep,
For my life hold no woman cheap,
And see you give no woman scorn
For that dark night when you were born.”
These flowers, which you see on our Altar, are symbols of that mother love – the white, the love of the mother who has gone – and the red, the mother who still lives to bless your life.
Far in the dim recesses of her heart
Where all is hushed and still
She keeps a shrine.
‘Tis here she kneels in prayer
While from above long shafts of light
Upon her shine.
Her heart is flower fragrant as she prays.
Aquiver like a candle flame,
Each prayer takes wing
To bless the world she works among,
To leave the radiance of the candles there.
We want each of you to take a flower from this Altar. If your mother has passed over to the other shore, you will choose a white flower and keep it always sacred to her memory. May the sight of it always quicken every tender memory of her and strengthen you anew in your efforts to be worthy of her hopes and aspirations for you. If your mother is living, you will choose a red flower. When you go home tonight, give it to your mother. Tell her it is our recognition of God’s best gift to a man – his mother’s love. Take her in your arms and say – “Mother, I’ve learned a great lesson tonight. The ceremonies have helped me realize more fully how much you really mean to me. I’m going to try to show you daily how much I appreciate the sacrifices you have made and the love and care you give me.”
Some day you’ll find that flower, I know not where, perhaps in her Bible or prayer book or some other sacred place, a silent witness to what this night has meant to the one whose love for you, her son, is beyond the comprehension of any son. My brothers, each of you will please take a red or white flower from the Altar.
DeMolay can ask no more of you than that you shall endeavor so to live as to be worthy of your mother’s love.
It was a red flower I chose for you those many years ago. Today I’d choose a white rose.
Thank you Mom.
Thank You LORD for my Mom.