Sunday, April 29, 2012

Remembering June This May

Who’s your favorite mother? Well, besides your own, of course. Or maybe you always wished you had the mom down the street instead of the one God gave you—the one that let her kids come and go as they pleased, never issued all those pesky rules and ultimatums, and was SO much cooler.

While I greatly admire the wise and wonderful Marmee from Little Women , I must confess that my favorite mom is June Cleaver. A fellow mother of sons, June offered the perfect blend of intelligence, humor, assertiveness, skepticism, modesty, graciousness and spunk. During all those years when I watched faithfully every week as Mrs. Cleaver capably dealt with crisis after crisis, I had no idea I’d have a Beaver and Theodore of my own someday. Thankfully, my days as a mom never brought forth an Eddie Haskell or a baby alligator to deal with; even so, I feel certain my sons benefited from lessons my subconscious surely retained as I watched June carry out her role as Arbiter of Domestic Harmony without ever breaking a sweat.

In contrast, my own mother sweated a lot to keep me on the appropriate path to adulthood. Working in the yard was always her favorite way to reduce stress; let’s just say our yard looked TERRIFIC during my teenage years! While our living room looked just like the Cleavers', our confrontations weren’t nearly as polite--and occasionally involved a ruler, flyswatter, or switch to help focus my attention. Because I loathe confrontations and learned early the power of words, my favorite battle tactic was to leave a note on Mother’s pillow detailing her horribly unfair assessment of my sin du jour, her ridiculous overreaction, and the depth to which her wrath had grievously wounded me. It’s too bad she didn’t save any of those notes; they would have made great reading all these years later.

I worry about the moms girls are watching on TV and movies today. Are they learning how to instill behavior such as honesty, compassion, and integrity? Do the Real Housewives of Wherever even know those words? And if Mom doesn’t teach basic values, who does? It’s scary to think of a society peopled by “Girls Gone Wild” rather than Girls Helping Girls, but sometimes, it sure seems that's where we're headed.

Be proactive this month: tell a good mom she’s worth a lot more than she realizes. And next time you vacuum, put on your pearls; maybe June knew something we don't.



Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Poem by Arabella Eugenia Smith (1844 - 1916)


If I should die to-night,
My friends would look upon my quiet face
Before they laid it in its resting-place,
And deem that death had left it almost fair;
And, laying snow-white flowers against my hair,
Would smooth it down with tearful tenderness,
And fold my hands with lingering caress, —
Poor hands, so empty and so cold to-night!

If I should die to-night,
My friends would call to mind with loving thought
Some kindly deed the icy hands had wrought,
Some gentle word the frozen lips had said,
Errands on which the willing feet had sped;
The memory of my selfishness and pride,
My hasty words would all be put aside,
And so I should be loved and mourned to-night.

If I should die to-night,
Even hearts estranged would turn once more to me,
Recalling other days remorsefully;
The eyes that chill me with averted glance
Would look upon me as of yore, perchance,
And soften in the old familiar way,
For who could war with dumb, unconscious clay?
So I might rest, forgiven of all to-night.

Oh, friends! I pray to-night,
Keep not your kisses for my dead, cold brow:
The way is lonely, let me feel them now.
Think gently of me; I am travelworn;
My faltering feet are pierced with many a thorn.
Forgive, oh, hearts estranged, forgive, I plead!
When dreamless rest is mine I shall not need
The tenderness for which I long to-night.