Mother's Day Musings


“Sometimes," I ventured, "it doesn't occur to boys that their mother was ever young and pretty. . . I couldn't stand it if you boys were inconsiderate, or thought of her as if she were just somebody who looked after you. You see I was very much in love with your mother once, and I know there's nobody like her...” ― Jim Burden speaking to Antonia’s sons in the novel My Ántonia by Willa Cather

Over the last couple of years, I’ve become something of a devotee of Willa Cather’s writing, and I would rate her novels My Ántonia and Death Comes to the Archbishop as two of my favorite works of literature of all time. What is surprising and somewhat disappointing about this is that it took so many years for me to discover her works, especially considering that I grew up only 23 miles away from Cather’s childhood home in Red Cloud, Nebraska. My freshman college dormitory was even named “Cather Hall” in honor of the famous author, but that didn’t keep me from being pretty much oblivious to her literature. Indeed, My Antonia is arguably Willa Cather’s best and most famous novel and is set largely in the grassy prairie lands surrounding the town of Red Cloud (renamed Black Hawk in the novel).

So the quote shown above crossed my mind when my sister and I recently re-discovered the picture of my Mom and Dad shown here. I love this picture, and I’m especially enjoying remembering and sharing it during this week leading up to Mother’s Day.

Of course, I know that there were too many times during my life when my behavior towards my mother would have disappointed Jim Burden, but at this point I can only hope that an awareness of that dawned on me early enough to redeem myself a bit, hopefully, much sooner than it took me to “discover” Willa Cather.

So Mom, I hope that in heaven you’ve found your way back to that shiny new car fender, and that you and Dad are as happy as you were on the day this picture was taken. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to leave you with one more quote from Willa Cather:

“She had only to stand in the orchard, to put her hand on a little crab tree and look up at the apples, to make you feel the goodness of planting and tending and harvesting at last. All the strong things of her heart came out in her body, that had been so tireless in serving generous emotions. It was no wonder that her sons stood tall and straight. She was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early races.” ― Willa Cather, My Ántonia

Have a Blessed Mother’s Day Weekend!

Jerry Kahrs

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