A Mother’s Day Fable
by Jennifer Horne
A bunch of moms were sitting around having cocktails at the Afterlife Lounge, watching a beautiful sunset. They were fairly recent arrivals and still felt connected to life on Earth and the human calendar.
One mom said, “Did you all know tomorrow is Mother’s Day on Earth?”
There was a general sigh around the table. More drinks were ordered.
One of the more smart-mouthed moms said, “You know what I never liked about Mother’s Day? Burnt toast and runny eggs in bed!”
"For me it was hard rolls you could build a wall with,” said another. “Almost broke a tooth one Mother's Day!"
“Ohhh,” said a sweet mom. “But they were so adorable, bringing us breakfast in bed.”
“Yeah,” said the smart-mouthed mom. “I’ll grant you that. But it got old, pretending to like burnt toast and runny eggs.”
Yet another mom said, reflectively, “What I don’t like about it is all the fine Sundays in May I spent being sad about my own mother not being there. Twenty years’ worth, days I can’t get back. What a waste!”
The other mothers sipped their drinks and listened.
“I mean, now, with all we know”—the other moms nodded—“I can see that I could have held a party in her honor, or taken a hike, or handed out homemade chocolate chip cookies (never raisin cookies, because they are just a disappointment) to random strangers, or something to celebrate being alive, the gift of having been brought into the world and fed and taken care of, the gift of being loved.”
“Hey,” said smart-mouth. “Not all mothers are so great. Not all mothers feel the love.”
“I know,” said the mother, “and that is truly sad. But most of us muddled through all right, and I just wish I could tell the kids it’s all going to be okay.”
“Really? Are you sure of that?”
“Well, no, I’m not. Epistemologically speaking, I’m not even sure we’re having this conversation.”
Socrates, the bartender, chimed in. “I’m pretty sure you are. It’s the same conversation all you newly arrived moms have. But what do I know? I used to be a philosopher, and now I’m just a guy who drank hemlock, as far as most people on Earth are concerned.”
Warming up, he continued: “All you know when you’re there is that you’re there. You savor the moments as best you can, if you have any sense, and then something else happens.”
A mother who had not spoken yet said, “Something that used to help me when I missed my mother was to look through her eyes for a few minutes, or even a whole hour. I’d just imagine I was seeing what she’d see, and suddenly she’d be there with me, and I’d have a different perspective on the whole thing, and I’d feel loved.”
The other mothers smiled, imagining. Their own mothers smiled, knowing. And all the mothers, back to the very beginning, smiled, remembering.
Dodie Walton Horne, 1934-1994. Photo by Jim Few.