Kagan McLeod for Reader's DigestMOTHER OF ROCK
by Paul Anderson, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
For my brother, my sister, and me, Guitar Hero was a competition of who could score the most points on the hardest level. Mom, on the other hand, would play the ten-minute “Freebird” on the easiest level while we kids prepared for our next showdown. When Mom restarted the song after missing a note, we all shouted our disapproval. “Rock stars do what they want,” she said, and we laughed because we agreed: Mom was a rock star. That’s why, later, her funeral felt more like the last stop on a farewell tour, with “Freebird” as the perfect send-off.
TWO SIMPLE WORDS
by Abigail Wortman, West Long Branch, New Jersey
On the first day of first grade, I stood by the front door with butterflies in my stomach. I voiced my biggest concern to my mother: “How will I make friends?” Crouching in front of me, she handed me advice I carry with me to this day: “Be Switzerland.” Be friends with everyone. Treat everyone equally and fairly. For all of my 20 years, I have lived by these words. Soon I will graduate and become a part of the real world. And on that first day, nervously facing new responsibilities, I know I will whisper two words to myself: “Be Switzerland.”
MY LITTLE ST. NICK
by Brenda Bokor Wismer, Pinedale, Wyoming
My six-year-old son, Nicholas, sat in the grocery cart as I perused the canned vegetables. “How about this one, Mommy?” he asked, and handed me a can of asparagus. “I love asparagus!” I told him. “Asparagus is my favorite vegetable, but it’s just too expensive.” I put the can back on the shelf. Three months later, I opened a crudely wrapped present from under the Christmas tree. It was a can of asparagus. Nicholas beamed in delight as he explained how he had saved his pennies to buy me the best Christmas gift I’d ever received.
THE NEED NEVER GOES AWAY
by Saman Rahman, Peshawar, Pakistan
“Mommy, you are a fairy,” I said. My mother laughed like tinkling bells. “I am serious, Mother. You know everything.” “My child, I try to answer as best as I can. When you grow older, you will not need me,” she said. “No, Mom, I will always need you. Nothing can change that,” I said. Her words echo in my heart as I look at the blue sky: “Dear daughter, nothing remains the same except the vast blue sky.” It has been ten years since I lost my fairy. Mom, you were wrong about one thing: I still need you.
A STAND-UP WOMAN
by Robin Hynes, Slingerland, New York
My mom had a great sense of humor and a knack for making everything fun. One thing that resonated with me, even as a small child, was how much she seemed to enjoy her own company and found ways to entertain herself. As a kid, I remember her giggling while paying bills. What was so funny about bill paying? She would put humorous notes in the reference section of the check: For the electric bill, she might put “You light up my life,” and for the mortgage she’d write “Four shingles closer to owning it all.”
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THE HARDEST CHOICE
by Andrea Cortinas, El Paso, Texas
Thirty-five years ago, when my mom was 22, she became a widow and a mother within the same month. The life she had imagined was stolen in a heartbeat. She tried to move on, but was lost. She gave me to my father’s family to be raised in the United States. Some call her weak; others call her selfish. I could be mad or bitter. Instead, I’m grateful for the life I have and to have a mother who sacrificed our relationship to give me a chance at a better life. She is courageous. She is my mother.
JUST ONE MORE QUESTION
by Katina Brown, West Monroe, Louisiana
“I was chosen to be your mama,” I tell my four-year-old daughter as my younger boys pull at my clothes. She looks at me tearfully and asks, “Why couldn’t I grow in your tummy like my brothers?” “Well,” I tell her, choking back my own tears, “The doctor said I couldn’t grow a baby in my tummy, so your daddy and I decided to adopt a baby. That baby was you.” I hold my breath and wait for a more difficult question. “Can I have some ice cream?” she asks. “Yes!” I say, thankful for her innocence.
MEMORIES IN VERSE
by Pat Witty, Fairmont, Minnesota
The day I was dreading had arrived—it was inevitable. I had seen it coming but had chosen to ignore it for as long as possible. My very capable, intelligent mom had started forgetting to pay her bills, and it was time to take over her finances. As I looked through her wallet, I made a remarkable discovery. Tucked away in a tiny compartment were four Mother’s Day poems I’d written for her in the 1960s. She had saved and cherished those simple gifts for 50 years. What a happy surprise!
TO MOM, ON HER SPECIAL DAY
by Megan McPartland, Levittown, New York
In 1976, my grandfather wrote a story about his fondest Christmas memories and submitted it to Reader’s Digest. Recently, while cleaning out his basement, my mom discovered the well preserved writing as well as the letter of regret from the magazine, as the piece was not published. After reading his story, I learned that my mom came from an amazing family—and with the help of my dad, she raised an amazing family herself. Mom, if you are reading this, Happy Mother’s Day! I love you.
MIGHT AS WELL FACE IT…
by Beth Kailukaitis, Kalamazoo Township, Michigan
Coming home from work one day, I found my mom dancing to Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.” I watched, enthralled, as she moved and sang along, her hips twisting to the beat, big smile plastered on her face. It had been a long while since I’d seen her dance, so this display of pure joy was infectious. She died unexpectedly in her sleep a few weeks later. I have many memories of her that I’ll always cherish, but none quite as happy and carefree as her dance that day. It’s definitely the simple things—thanks, Robert Palmer!
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PAY IT FORWARD
by Teresa Martin, North Aurora, Illinois
You reap what you sow: In her old country, my mom saw a very poor blind woman with her young daughter. She felt sorry for them and loaned them all her savings. Although Mom was worried sick about it, they miraculously returned every cent. Two decades later, when Mom left her Communist country and came to America as a refugee, the Catholic Church gave her money to feed her many children. She returned them every single cent, and her children continued to pay back through worldwide charities. Mom is now 90 years old and has a richly blessed life.
A SCARLET SYMBOL
by Priscilla Hartling, West Allis, Wisconsin
My mother was my best friend. She loved cardinals, the male red ones. When she got sick with pancreatic cancer and knew death was near, she told me to always look for the red cardinal—that would be her. I never paid too much attention to that statement; I was too busy becoming an adult. Twenty-five years later, every time I feel at my wits’ end, there is a cardinal flying past me or in a nearby tree. Is it coincidence, or my mother, all these years later, letting me know that everything will be OK? I’ll take the latter.
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My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me everything you know.”
“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” —Alcohol
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My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.
Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?
A: A mechanic.