"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mother's Day journey--what the gravestone doesn't tell you...

My tires will crunch across the gravel lane at the Waurika, Oklahoma,  cemetery this Sunday, this Mothers’ Day.

Every year I drive down to plant some flowers, to remember, to talk to Mom.

The south wind sweeps up the prairie hill west of the little town, full of memories, especially memories of the last years of her life.

It comes up out of Texas, across the nearby Red River, like she did to live with us years ago, Francis Faye Culp Clark.

Today her gravestone is almost 40 years old, and it records her name and the years of her life. But that is, was, not her.

But it cannot record the life she lived, this child of East Texas, one of four sisters and two brothers, now all dead. The girl who played high school basketball at South park High School in Beaumont, the girl who got the good job with Ma Bell, and who helped the rest of the family through the Depression, the girl who gave baby brother 25 cents a day for school lunch. It can’t record her marriage and the birth of two sons and the joy of holding and raising them. It can’t record the pride in their successes, the tears in their failures. It can’t record her love for grandchildren.  It can’t record her strength in divorce, nor her sense of humor and most of all, it can't record her unselfishness. Nor her faith in the face of death.

And I can’t either, except from too few memories, and looking back through black and white snapshots, and from stories my brothr and cousins have told me.

But I can imagine more now, as I watch my daughter—who looks remarkably like her grandmother--holding and feeding and cuddling and talking to and disciplining her daughters and son. I see the eye contact, the touch, the strongest bond on earth, and I learn what I experienced—what every fortunate son and daughter experienced—before they could remember, but not before they could know deep in their souls.

I saw the same bond recently when a tall, 60-something  man slowly led his frail mother, by the arm,  into a restaurant to have dinner with her, listening to her chat away.

I wish I could do the same, but I can’t. But I will do the best I can, and drive up to Mom’s grave, and tell her I miss her, and I love her.

I hope you can talk to your mother, face to face this Mothers’ Day. Don’t wait until it’s too late.  
Tomorrow--A Mother's Day Hug

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