Editor’s note: Today’s editorial is a reprinting of a Sentinel editorial from May 9, 1958. We marvel not only at the delightfulness of the prose, but at the staying power of the message more than six decades later. Some sentiments are eternally valid, it would appear.
When you see a mother walking down the street, hurrying along to fulfill some of her endless responsibilities, she looks deceivingly like almost anyone else. But, of course, we all know that a mother is not quite like any other form of humanity. There are many things — some of them minor, but most of them major — which set her apart from all the rest of us.
When we think about mothers it is natural, of course, for each of us to think of our own mother. But although these thoughts are as varied as personalities themselves, the basic symbol of motherhood is international.
A mother is a joyous and extraordinary institution. She is your first recollection ... the first human being you knew ... the symbol of love, devotion and protection. She’s the one you needed and loved above all else.
When you were ever so young, able to utter only a few words, and barely able to walk, you took the first faltering steps in her direction, and your baby name for her was the first word you learned. When you wanted food, sympathy, attention, or love, you ran to her for it, and you always found it in abundance.
The first time you knew pain — you may have been scratched by the cat, stubbed a small toe, or pinched a tiny finger in the door — it was a major catastrophe in your young life until Mother cuddled you close to her heart, pressed a tear-stained cheek against your own and whispered tender words of comfort that made everything right again.
You have a thousand recollections of her after that … the first day of school, when she scrubbed your face until it shone and carefully combed your unruly hair; holding you at arm’s length to be certain you looked your best for that first day. Later, at the schoolhouse, you felt like crying when she let go of your hand and shoved you gently toward the teacher. You were too young to know what it was, but as you watched her walking away from you, you experience loneliness and homesickness for the first time.
In the years that followed she was always there — a trusted confidant, a sympathetic listener, a respected adviser. When you were happy, you rushed home to share it with her. When you were despondent you went to her to be cheered. She knew you and understood you as no one else did. She shared your every joy and sorrow.
When she was ill you nearly panicked, and were afraid to let yourself think about the years far ahead, because you couldn’t bring yourself to visualize a life that didn’t include her.
Then suddenly you grew up and went away. You remember the day you left ... she knew you had to go, and there were no tears, but you knew her heart was as heavy as yours, and you knew that things would be different now, that you’d know lonely days.
The years rolled on and there were many changes ... some of them good, some of them not so good. Life is like that; nothing remains static; life goes on; people come and go, live and die. But memories linger on and on as long as there is the capacity for remembering.
And the memory of a mother has more lasting qualities than any other, because it is the memory of all things that are right and good.
A mother is a very unusual and wonderful thing, the symbol of kindness and patience. She will devote her life to teaching you what is right, and though it may break her heart if her efforts fail, she will never love you any less and she will never deny you. Although others may turn away, she will always be there, waiting to do whatever she can to help.
A mother is all that is fine and worthwhile in this life, carrying far more than her share of the heartaches of the world, with never a complaint ... spending her life sacrificing for others, and never asking anything in return, except the privilege to go on teaching, healing and comforting.
A mother is a rare and wonderful thing, and those who still have one should tell her so this weekend.