A friend of mine once called me “a simple person.” Now, at first I took slight umbrage at that remark. I’m a little sensitive about the fact that I didn’t go to college and that I lack the sophistication of some of my more worldly friends. But after I thought about it, I realized that he intended it as a compliment. What he meant was that I’m easily pleased and find a child-like delight in simple and seemingly ordinary things.
My Mama was like that. I’ve watched the bluebirds for several weeks now as they nested in the house that Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man built. And I watched as they cared for those perfect blue eggs and the perfect speckled chicks that hatched from them. I watched as Mama and Papa Bluebird made endless trips back and forth to feed those hungry babies, their beaks full of fat caterpillars and grubs. I even got to see two of the chicks when they fledged. The whole time, I was thinking, Mama would have loved this.
Mama used to spend hours watching the bluebirds from her wheelchair at the window. She would clap her hands with glee as she watched the bluebird babies and their antics and laugh at the way the fat babies puffed out their chests to look bigger. By that time, her speech was slurred from the effects of ALS, but I could still understand her as she talked to the baby bluebirds: Look at you, Mr. Big Stuff. Yeah, you puff those feathers out! Look at you fly! Go, baby, go!
Yes, Mama was a simple woman. And I feel so very blessed that she passed that infinite capacity for joy on to me. It’s a precious gift indeed she gave me, in this world where so little is simple anymore. I think about her a lot this time of year and feel anew the ache of loss and regret and sorrow that she never got to know my children and they never knew her. Mama would be so pleased to see the bluebird pop-ups that Ariel made for me or to hear Benjamin play the music he composed based on the song of the wood thrush. I like to think that I’ve passed on the gift of being simple to them. They, too, have that infinite capacity to be awed, that endless capacity for joy.
(Ariel’s bluebird pop-up)
I still miss Mama. I guess I’ll never stop missing her until the day we are reunited in the better and sweeter life hereafter. So, if you are celebrating this Mother’s Day with your mom by your side, give her an extra hug for those of us who can’t hug our mamas, whatever the reason. Take pleasure in her warm touch and the feel of her arms around you, in the crinkles in the corner of her eyes as she smiles at you, and in the way she still reaches up to straighten your collar or smooth your hair. Because it’s those simple things you’ll remember, those small gestures of affection, those funny little idiosyncrasies that maybe embarrassed you as a teenager. That’s what you’ll remember.
So…Happy Mother’s Day. May you know love and happiness. And may we all know the pleasure of small joys and the contentment and delight of being simple.
(Baby bluebird, newly fledged)