The thick air slowly cooled as the July sun had long before went to rest. Sitting on the edge of the Schuylkill river in Philadelphia, I had just quit my job and had a one-way ticket to Asia with my name on it. I was high on life.
With me was a good friend, Alex, and as we usually do, we were discussing the big wonders in life. Things like twinkling stars, garbage in our rivers, and visitors in our dreams. It was around midnight and there were still a number of folks meandering around the park which hugged the river. The sculpture garden provided a good combination of concrete, greenery, night sky, and water beneath our feet.
Alex had momentarily wandered off as I stared out to the mirror river, and the reflection of cars zipping by on the opposite side. From the corner of my eye, a light started shining brightly and quickly vanishing. I looked to my right and saw a young boy with a bright sparkler. He was swirling it in the air with bursts of laughter as his mom was crouched behind him with a bag full of unlit sparklers. As a child around four years of age, it was probably one of the most exciting moments in his young life.
The light diminished and he immediately threw the stick into the river. His mom then lit the next one and handed the sparkler to her child. This cycle continued for the next few minutes. And not once did the mother light one for herself.
That was when a glaring light was shed in my head. I was seeing something so simple and although it goes unwitnessed everyday, it was beyond beautiful. I realized for myself what pure love is.
The mother was constantly working and giving as a means of bringing enjoyment to her child. And most likely, she would have it no other way. Because her enjoyment came from that moment of working and giving. In that moment, there was nothing else that a child so young could or would give back. Maybe a kiss or a hug, but it wasn’t expected from the mother.
I turned towards the river again and started recollecting my childhood. My thoughts were only further substantiated by my own mother.
I remembered this one time almost 10 years before when I was a maturing kid in college. I had gone night skiing with some friends near our school in upstate New York. As we sat on the bus returning to our campus, I checked all my pockets for belongings and realized my car keys were missing. My mind raced as I realized that my chest pocket was open and that the keys must have fallen out during one of my numerous falls.
My keys were on the side of a slope, probably under some snow. How was I going to recover them?
Since I didn’t need my car too regularly, I figured out a plan to catch a train back home during the weekend since my spare keys were there. I calmed down and then called my lifeline, my Mom. I shared the details and my plan, and of course after a bit of a lecture, she said “Okay, it’ll be nice to see you this weekend.”
The next day, I was walking back to my apartment after classes in the afternoon and I unexpectedly received a call from her. “I’m here at your campus, meet me by your car.”
“WHAAT?” I responded. Apparently, she pushed her busy schedule aside, and made the three hour drive to bring me my spare keys. We hung out for at most 30 minutes and she proceeded to drive back home for three hours.
I was in a complete awe while feeling completely guilty. After she left, I realized how unsurprising her actions were. It was completely character of her to do so as it was one of countless times that she went out of her way to “save” me.
Thinking back now, I realized that I and maybe most people take for granted this constantly occurring phenomenon – this love that is unconditionally given to us.
In the institution of finding love which leads to a union between two partners, there is always give and take. In my belief, there will always be certain terms and conditions when finding a “true love” and a partner in life. Part of these terms is the realization that you’ll likely fall in & out of love and that you’ll need to make a commitment to working towards bettering the relationship when times are low. And that’s just part of the big equation.
But when it comes to the love we receive from our mothers – it’s different and the big equation is actually really simple, albeit unbalanced. Their love is defined by – having the feeling of giving without an ounce of expecting something in return.
Pure love is to only give and a great Mom is the purest embodiment of this beautiful phenomenon.
In light of Mother’s Day, this post is dedicated to my wonderful Mom and all other Moms out there. As children, it’s inevitably humbling and difficult to realize how we can return a lifelong of giving from our Moms. I believe appreciation is the first step.
Happy Mother’s Day.