ometime in the early ‘90’s Mother’s Day fell on May 10th. That sounds like a rather mundane fact that can be verified by looking back at calendars from the period.
There is really no reason anyone would remember Mother’s Day falling on the 10th of May unless it was your birthday; or maybe your child’s birthday.
Maybe it would be even more memorable if it was Mother’s Day, your child’s birthday, and you were preaching three times each Sunday; including Mother’s Day.
At this point I think it’s important to emphasize that my mother absolutely adored my daughter. Our daughter was the first grandchild and the fact that she was a she, made her even more special.
Given the facts of the day, I knew my mother would understand if we celebrated Mother’s Day one day late. After all, both my wife and mother-in-law were fine with it.
Never, in the history of decisions, has one man been so completely wrong.
My mother lived in Huntsville and each week we went to her home on Thursday night. Usually, we made the ritualistic visit to Ryan’s on South Parkway for the evening meal. During that visit on the Thursday before Mother’s Day I asked my mother if it would be alright if we celebrated one day late. After all it was her grandchild’s birthday and I had my hands full with three worship services that day.
She was all smiles and understood from the very soles of her feet. “Make her day special” was her parting words on Thursday night.
With that, I headed home and into the very lore of Mother’s Day mistakes.
In my defense, preacher’s kids lose a lot to their father’s calling. Most vacations were cut short because of deaths in the church family. They never get to enjoy a long weekend. One day I am going to take a long weekend along with the rest of the church. Their father is community property, and they know it. Protecting special days like birthdays are a challenge.
Saying “no” to a request from the community or church member because it is your child’s birthday is expensive. Most folks see their immediate perceived need as more important than the pastor being present for his child’s birthday.
I really didn’t see this coming.
When I called Mom to make plans for her day, she was obviously not pleased with me.
It seems that on that day, the Monday after Mother’s Day, all the ladies at her place of work were going on about what their children did for them on their special day. On, and on, and on, and on. And my Mom didn’t have a thing to brag about.
I knew this was a moment when she said, “I gave you life!” Seriously, there is no comeback on that one.
I listened as she tearfully explained how deeply hurt, she was. About all I could do was listen and apologize. We made the trip to Huntsville with gifts, hat, and apologies in hand.
I haven’t learned all the lessons in life. But the ones I have, I learned the hard way. The next year, I was ready. After worship we headed for Huntsville. We had gifts, and smiles and the gaudiest card any drug store could provide.
We walked into the front door and her first words were; you guessed it, “Oh, you shouldn’t have!”
“Oh, yes! Yes, we did!” I exclaimed. “I have paid for last year’s mistake 364 days and today my debt is paid,” I finished.
Eventually I learned to laugh about it but I never really understood. I’m sure a simple card would have been sufficient. I should have done better.
However, I never got to enjoy any more Mother’s Days with Mom. She passed away at the age of 56, on Father’s Day.
No Mother’s Day comes without the memory of that day. I think of all the times I roamed the halls of Huntsville Hospital visiting sick souls. Mom worked across the street as a medical transcriptionist. Any one of those days I could have gone to lunch with her. But I didn’t. I was too busy for what was important.
Sure wish I could have lunch with Mom this Sunday.
— Aaron Johnson is pastor of Redeemer Church in Guntersville, AL, and contributing columnist to a number of media outlets.
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