Thinking back 10 years and how our lives have changed, think about how much our mothers and our wives have come through to get here today.
In 2004, my mom continued to mourn my father’s passing a year earlier. Thousands of other mothers were still reeling from their losses on that horrible Sept. 11 day a few years earlier.
More mothers were grieving their sons and daughters taken in defense of our country, while others with children serving our country worried daily about the safety of their loved ones thousands of miles from the safety of their homes.
Some 15 months later we faced a string of five years that turned south Louisiana on end: Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster combined to alter the lives of hundreds of thousands of mothers — yes, we can list our women’s tragedies in the hundreds of thousands.
Today, years removed from those tragedies, it’s difficult for us men to understand the depth of their losses, and difficult to come up with ways to erase those deeply etched memories.
Sure, we can follow the well-worn commercial path for Mother’s Day. Like I’ve written in the past, if you don’t buy flowers or take her out to dinner, you risk falling well below our society’s expectations of what you’re supposed to do today.
For us Baby Boomers, there’s hardly a way we can repay our moms for what they did. Most of us came from homes (not houses) where dads went to work and moms stayed home. We were lucky. We always had somebody at home.
At the risk of repeating a years-ago column, we can’t repay our moms for their attention, for washing and mending our clothes, preparing our meals, nursing us, making sure we were on time for school, chiding us for our wrongs, praising us for our “rights,” and keeping us safe from the childhood perils.
And, most of all, they worried about us: There’s not a caring mother in the world who hasn’t earned every one of her gray hairs. Those silver strands are their medals, their badges of courageous service.
For most of us, we started our outdoors pursuits with our dads, but it was our moms who made it happen. We couldn’t have started to enjoy the outdoors without her. When was the day your dad started out the door with you in hand and didn’t check with your mom before you left? If you answered “never,” then you weren’t paying attention.
My mom isn’t with us today, and for the seventh year I wish I could pick up the phone and tell her what I told her on Mother’s Day 2007. So if you have the chance, tell her today.
To Carolyn Talbot, who raised the woman I’ve been married to for 40 years; and, to Cheryl, the mother of my two sons; and to Robin and Katie, the mothers of our grandsons, thank you. What we are, what we, my sons and I, cherish is, in large measure, because of you.