By Matt Gordon
My mother visited a few weeks ago. She brought cookies.
At the most basic level, moms are bringers. Not one of us exists who was not brought forth from some brave, bent-back, morning sick woman. Mothers tote their young along at great sacrifice and then bring them forth into the world. They bring life.
The rest? Well, there are good moms and bad moms, and, probably, all sorts of in-between moms.
As for my mom, she brings cookies. But first she shows up. To every game, practice, rehearsal. Her big blue Astro van or Ford Explorer or Toyota Camry or RAV4 came cruising up, often arriving early, and willing to stay late. I wonder how many years of her life were spent toting her children to and from events that nearly eight billion of the world’s inhabitants cared nothing about? But there she’d be—with the dozen or so people whose love ratcheted up care—in the rain, snow, or blazing heat, on the back fields, at the gym entrance, in this town or that, clapping or cheering or consoling or correcting or coaching. Before, during, and after, regardless of the outcomes of life, there was mom.
I’ll never be a mom, but I’m now married to a woman who is one, so I see it. Finding differences on the picture game aback of the cereal box, getting the last of the vomit out of the couch, answering the same question for the 97th time, making much of every watch-this-mama moment, reading that book—“Again, Mama, please?” I don’t recall everything my own mother has done in my life, but all of it is recalled all the same. Each time I count or read or win with humility or lose with grace or mind manners or dream or make or believe in myself or my God—each time life is brought, a remnant of my mother’s enduring influence comes with it, standing steady behind every good endeavor.
Last night I took a favorite meal from our freezer. It is one my mother brought. Warmed to perfection, it still tasted good, even after months out-of-sight. As the days turn into months, and months become years, relationships change. Distance happens—with life, it always does. Moves and change and sickness. New lives bring new complexities. Yet warmed-to-perfection is still a reality. A relationship ages, but it doesn’t grow old—it endures more, it hopes more, it loves more. A mother’s love used to be a daily occurrence. It still is, even despite great distances. I took a bite of reheated cashew chicken and smiled; warmed to perfection, it still tasted good. With it came a flood of memories—pool parties and summer vacations in Michigan and game nights and vacation bible school and stories before bed and naps on that big floppy water bed and a country lane that led home. One lit up by my mother. Cooking or cleaning or consoling or correcting or coaching. I took another bite and smiled.
In life we grow up and grow old. I look at my own boys, gaining on me in every way; one blink and I’ll be overtaken. They are discovering life, and each step of independence is one taken away from me. I am the source of wind, sending them hopefully out. I do my job, pushing them off into a distance seen only through the squinting. And then they are just dots on the horizon of my impact. My reach will stretch only so far, and then they will sail by other winds.
On that cruel day, back in my home, I’ll look at the pictures and think of the days I’m living now—the then-memories. I’ll long for them, but the road trips and teaching moments and makeshift tents will be replaced by hopes and prayers, an exchange of hugs for mere whispers.
This thought gnaws me while I gnaw the last of the cookies my mother brought me. When that day comes—and it will be here soon—I will do what my mother has done for me since my making. I will show up. I will bring life. It will be different, but no less good, for it is built on the same foundation of that self-same good: the same house, the same essence of wispy-willow life, growing and changing and flailing along in the wind. Like my mother has done for me and my sisters, I will continue to breathe life and bring love. And with it, cookies too.