Mothers really are saints

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You know, I think that we all think of our mothers as saints—some of us quite literally. Few of our mothers have been officially elevated to sainthood, but as far as I’m concerned that doesn’t make them any less saintly.

All you have to do to understand what I mean is think back on your childhood and all the things your mother did for you and the things she went through for or because of you and I’m firmly convinced that you’ll agree that your mother was truly a saint.

Just a few of the things I did growing up and the fact that my mother allowed me to grow up will illustrate my point.

When I was twelve, I read an entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica about Michelangelo’s drawings of a flying machine and was determined to build my own. I was already an accomplished kite builder so it seemed a small leap to build something big enough to fly with the weight of my skinny body—at the time I weighed around one hundred pounds and was as skinny as a rail. I could find the light wood with no problem but finding the covering like the newspaper I used for my kites was a challenge. I didn’t think paper was suitable for such a project. My fertile twelve-year-old mind hit on the perfect substitute. Tightly-woven cotton sheets would be perfect, and the perfect thing existed in my mom’s linen cabinet, some brand-new percale sheets that she’d ordered from the Sears and Roebucks catalog.

It was summer and I was home from school and had no work to do that day, and she was off to her job and would be gone until almost supper time. The only duty I had was to watch my three younger siblings and keep them out of trouble, which was no big problem on our small truck farm. I just had them go and weed the garden, a task that was sure to keep them preoccupied until lunch. When they were busy, I raided the linen closet, got two sheets and some light wood strips that had been left over from some other project and set to work.

Two hours after starting, I had a kite-shaped device that was six feet across and eight feet long, completely with leather arm straps made from some old leather belts that were no longer used. I took it to the roof of our house, got a running start toward the back yard—careful to stay well clear of the well—and jumped. There wasn’t much wind that day, but enough of a breeze to give me lift for a glide of about twenty feet before it ran out and I crashed into a persimmon tree. I was only bruised but the sheets took a beating, with rips on both of them, not to mention when I hit the ground it was in the softest, muddiest part of the field behind our house.

Disaster!  I could have run the things through the washing machine and removed the dirt stains—I thought—but sewing up the foot-long rips was beyond my skills. I figured I was a goner. After all, what do you think your mother would do if you ruined two of her brand-new sheets that had cost half a week’s pay?

When she got home from work, I didn’t try to hide it. I never could hide anything from her for long anyway, and I tensed waiting for the whipping I know I deserved. Instead, she checked to make sure I was okay, no broken bones that I might be trying to hide—growing up I fell out of trees, got cut on broken glass swimming in a cow pond, so this was a wise move. When she was satisfied that I was okay, she then gave me a stern talking to about taking other people’s things and damaging them, informed me that I would pay for the sheets from my parttime job, and then made me dismantle my mangled flying machine with my siblings looking on. They’d seen me come off the roof, seen the accident, and were proud as punch on the one hand, but thought I was a goner when mom came hone on the other. Just getting a stern lecture and the orders to pay the damages was a shock to me but an even bigger shock to them.

We all learned a good lesson from that incident, about responsibility and respect. We learned that our mother, like her mother, my grandmother who I lived with from the time I was thirteen or so, was extremely wise and compassionate—in other words a saint.

Oh, and I also learned the wisdom of checking your flight path for obstacles like trees before taking off in a flying machine. – NWI