Let’s make every day Mother’s Day
Opinion Maker Column
By Charles McKelvy
Photo of yours truly and Mom courtesy of an usher at Orchestra Hall in Chicago after a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
(Author’s note: This essay appeared originally in The Herald-Palladium Newspaper in Saint Joseph, Michigan on November 30, 2010, just a month after we moved Mom to be near us in Bridgman, Michigan. And, I must say, it did earn the praise of local mothers, including Peggy Schaffer who wrote: “Well! You’ve won your way into every Mother’s heart with this article!”)
When I was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago, editors often told me: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
Well, I sure checked it out as soon as I was of sound mind and body, and I thus knew at the tender age of 4 that I was forever blessed to have a loving mother who would go to any lengths to protect, nurture, and comfort her children.
It was at that tender age, you see, when I took deathly ill and was ordered by the family doctor to have my tonsils removed. You students of medicine will be interested to know that I suffered in succession: scarlet fever and tonsillitis. My condition was so severe that the doctor quarantined us in our apartment in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. Some of the neighbors actually moved out in fear of the dreaded scarlet fever.
Well, my mother didn’t move out. Nor did my father.
They were at my side, comforting me in my fever and assuring me I would get better and return to the hyperactive little life I had just been enjoying in my small corner of the Windy City.
Dad, of course, had to go to work to support us, so it was Mom who stayed with me throughout an illness that I still remember—lo these 56 years later—as somewhere beyond dire.
I knew in my fevered brain that I was at death’s door. I was really, really sick and frightened, but my mother was there comforting me and guiding me and praying for me and just putting cool wash cloths on my forehead and never leaving my side.
And then, when the progression of my illness led me to the operating room at the Chicago hospital in which I had been born just four years before, Mom was there with me. She not only stayed in the room with me, but she walked beside me as they wheeled me toward the dreaded operating room, and the frightful “rubber mask” and the rest of it.
She had to walk beside me, because I was a definite “flight risk” who had already jumped off the gurney and tried to book his way out of that creepy, old hospital.
Mom was there when I came to after the operation, and she was there ordering the doctor to bring me the vanilla ice cream he had promised to bring me after my surgery.
The man in the white coat tried to laugh me off, but Mom told him I had been quite serious in ordering ice cream as a post-surgical treat, and so the good doctor went and got some ice cream.
What a Mom!
And what I am getting at here is that although we are now in the Big Holiday season, we might all pause and reflect warmly on that wonderful Sunday in May that we call Mother’s Day.
This is the season of giving, so let’s give thanks for our mothers and say a collective: “Thanks, Mom!”
I was certainly inspired to do so the other day when I was wheeling Mom through the inner sanctum of a Chicago area hospital to an appointment with a doctor who was preparing to perform a surgical procedure upon her. As I pushed her in her wheelchair along the brightly lighted corridor, I glanced into a bay and saw a woman tenderly holding a little boy who just had to be her son and cooing comforting thoughts to him.
That took me back immediately to 1954 when Mom was there for me in the hospital.
I smiled and patted my 89-year-old Mother on the shoulder and said: “Don’t worry, Mom, I’m right here.”
She just nodded and directed me to continue pushing her toward her appointment with the doctor.
What goes around comes around, and what would certainly make this lumpy old planet a lot rounder would be some collective gratitude for the wonders that mothers work in our hearts and in our world.
So why wait until that sunny Sunday in May to say: “Thanks, Mom!”
Every day can be Mother’s Day if we want it to be.
And I’ll cast the first vote in favor.
There, I’m done.