A LETTER, FROM A FATHER’S HEART,
TO HIS DAUGHTER, SUZANNE
ON THE EVE OF MOTHER’S DAY
You took the car out last night.
And you did not tell anybody. And you did not come home last night. Or this morning. Or this afternoon. And you did not bother to leave a note. And you did not call up your Mother or anybody else…
Your Mama and I -- we were so worried. Were you kidnapped? Were you raped? Were you… murdered? Your Mother was so upset. Almost hysterical. So when you came back tonight, your Mama was very angry. You had a scene. And words that hurt. And tempers that exploded. And you stomped out. And slammed the door…
And Suzie, here I am now, your Daddy, beside your bed. I am here. With you. You know, Suzie, your Mama was really upset. But it was not about the car. She did not care about the car. It was you she cared about.
Yes, you. It was always -- you. Her only reason for working… her only reason for living, was you. She has always worked so very hard. For you. For your clothes, your education, your every need, your every want, your every whim, your every vain caprice. And when she had to say “No,” it was because we could not afford it. And if ever she could not give you what you wanted, it broke her heart. To say “No” to you. Because we could not afford it…
All these many years, together. Yet, somehow you never understood your Mama… Suzie, did you ever, ever make a real effort to understand your Mother?
You always disagreed with her. In your eyes, you were always correct. Totally correct… Yes, in your eyes, your Mother was wrong, always wrong, totally wrong. Did it ever occur to you that maybe your Mama was also correct? Partially? Sometimes?
Your Mama was never totally wrong. Nor totally evil… but you never admitted that. To you, she is always wrong, completely wrong, totally evil…
Now, may I ask you a question, Suzanne?
WHY DON’T YOU TREAT YOUR MOTHER THE SAME WAY YOU TREAT YOUR FRIENDS?
Why not the same excitement, the same attention, the same loyalty, the same importance, the same generosity, the same care?
You, you are so pleasant and thoughtful and forgiving and loving to your friends. Yes, you have an ocean of charm and goodness for your friends. But not a drop, not even a single drop, for your own Mother.
And why not, Suzanne, and why not? Does your Mama love you less than your friends do? Less than your boyfriends, those shallow, irresponsible, selfish creatures who only use you and your body, and like you only for what you can give them? Yet you love them more, more than you ever loved your own Mother!!!
Suzie, you do not treat your own Mother like a friend…
You treat your dog -- you treat your dog better than you treat your own Mother!!!
But she is a human being!!! She has a heart like you. And tears like you. Yes. Tears. Of pain. And rejection… Yes, tears, which you… never wiped away…..
Suzie, please come. Take my hand. Let us go together and stand by your Mother’s bedside...…
Your Mama is sleeping now. Look at her… Look at her face. Once young. Once beautiful. Now devastated. Now eternally tired. Now ruined with age. With countless, cruel wrinkles -- every wrinkle an ugly reminder of rejection and worry, of pain and love -- for -- you…
Put yourself in her place. Enter her heart. Enter her mind. Enter her insecurities, her emotions, her fears… Feel and be that wasted woman who long ago, with deep, deep love carried you in her womb and gave birth to you… And gently, patiently nursed you and fed you every day.
Yes, Suzanne, please empathize with her. Empathize with her.
Understand and accept her background and education, or lack of it… then perhaps you won’t be so quick to criticize and complain and condemn and be ashamed of her. Then perhaps behind her imperfect, uncultured exterior you will at last see the woman, the good woman, the loving woman, the lovable woman, my wife, your Mother…
Do you know, Suzie, that your Mama is a very lonely person?
That she is afraid, and insecure, and reaching, forever reaching out to me, and to you? Especially you. Reaching out for your understanding, your acceptance, your forgiveness, your gentleness, your healing, your sharing, your love.
But you were never there. Never. She reached out to you. And she reached -- nothing…
You always turned your back and walked away. Walked away… to what? To the cheap, unfaithful ecstasies of selfish, shallow emptiness…
YOU NEVER HAD TIME FOR YOUR MAMA. YOU WERE FOREVER RUNNING AROUND, DOING EVERYTHING, DOING NOTHING, GOING NOWHERE.
What is it that attracts you, and fascinates you and enslaves you and leaves you addicted to your friends, anyway? Gorgeous bodies, and loud music, and sex and thrills and titillating sensations and wild excitement and mad madness and being up-to-date and feeling important and being with the “in” crowd and belonging… belonging to them.
Belonging to them? Is that what you desire and crave with such shameless passion?
Is that LIFE and is that LOVE for you?
What about silent service… and loyalty… and faithfulness… and endless forgiveness and patient acceptance… and daily sharing and genuinely caring for you? What about working, and slaving every day to feed you, and to fill your closet full of clothes and to keep your dresser overflowing with the vanity of endless cosmetics? What about patiently forgiving, day after day… year after year… all your insults and criticisms and complaints and cruel bitching? What about quietly giving everything, and asking for nothing in return?…
All your Mama ever wanted in life was for you to realize that she does love you…and, now and then, from you, perhaps a smile, a word of appreciation, a sincere “Thank You, Mama.”
But you never thanked her.
You were too busy. Too busy to stop and give her the proper reverence and respect and attention and time and listening and gentleness and care of -- a loving child for her loving Mother.
No, never a kindly touch. Never a grateful word. Never a loving embrace. Never a caring kiss.
You took everything for granted !!! YOU TOOK EVERYTHING FOR GRANTED !!!
Your Mama’s constant, loving service meant NOTHING to you.
To you, your Mother was just a doormat. Or a garbage can. To be used. To be used. To be used. When needed. And, at all other times, to be ignored. And left alone. Forgotten. Rejected.
My poor, poor Suzie. How blind, how cruelly blind we are!
+ + +
Suzie, you know, I saw your Mother crying, really crying… only three times. Yes. I saw your Mama crying, really crying only three times.
+ She really cried the first time many years ago when you, Suzie, were still a little girl, and you had cerebral meningitis, and you almost died and the doctors all gave up and told us that they could do no more, and that you would surely die.
AND YOUR MAMA – A STRONG, STRONG, WOMAN, SHE BROKE DOWN AND CRIED AND CRIED AND CRIED. AND IN HER SIMPLE, STUPID, BEAUTIFUL, MAGNIFICENT WAY, SHE BARGAINED WITH GOD TO GIVE YOU LIFE EVEN AT THE COST OF HER OWN DEATH. “KILL ME, KILL ME,” SHE PRAYED, “BUT SAVE MY BABY!”
Because, Suzanne, because your Mama -- she loves you, more, more than her own life, more than her own self!
+ And then tonight, after your quarrel with her, your Mama -- she really cried. Because she had to scold you bitterly. For your own good. It tore her heart apart. But she had to do it. Because she loves you…
+ And finally, Suzanne, your Mama really cried this morning.
At the hospital. When the doctor told her… that she has cancer… that she has cancer.
That she has only six months to live. At most. Only six short months to live.
And then no more. Forever, no more…..
The cancer is there. And it is malignant. And it has spread, all over. And life, it is all over, for your Mama…
Look at her… again, Suzie. Look at your Mama. Your only Mama. Your dying Mama…..
She looks like a little child, doesn’t she?
So vulnerable. So weak.
My dear wife. Your Mother.
Now breathing so easily. Soon to be no more.
Suzie, must we wait until she is totally ravaged by cancer, must we wait until she is dead, and turned to dust, and nothingness, before we wake up and appreciate your Mother and thank her and love her???
The dawn is now appearing.
IT IS NOW MOTHER’S DAY.
YOUR MAMA’S LAST MOTHER’S DAY.
Look at her once more, my child. Look at her once more.
Shall this woman die, and forever leave this world without ever feeling your gratitude, and your love?
It all depends on you, Suzanne. Yes. It all depends on you…
Today is Mother’s Day. Do not patronize your Mother with a cheap Mother’s Day card, or only a present, which will soon be forgotten.
YOUR MOTHER DESERVES MORE. SHE DESERVES YOU!!!!!
Your Mother’s life has been an endless, senseless, painful, cold, cruel, dark night…
Suzie, -- please, please let your Mama experience a tiny bit of dawn. A tender touch of sunshine! Please.
Open your eyes, and see.
Open your heart, and feel.
And at least, for this one brief, painful, precious moment, say -- “THANK YOU, MAMA”….. “I AM SORRY, MAMA”….. “I LOVE YOU, MAMA”
Then… Tenderly… Softly… Embrace her… with your love…
Yes… Tenderly… Softly… Embrace her…
WITH YOUR LOVE.