Author: Daniel, Bert

Happy Mother's Day
 

Father's day welcome columnists often write about the "column that nobody reads" (because we're all at the Grass Valley Festival). Mother's Day might be the column that almost nobody reads because you're all off to the great annual festival in Parkfield. Not me. As the change in subject pronoun above indicates, I am here writing my annual Mother's Day "forgotten column" instead of where I'd like to be, listening to all that good Bluegrass music with you folks (who aren't reading this anyway).

Around here on Mother's Day, my wife calls the shots. That's as it should be. Both of our moms have passed on. And a Bluegrass festival would be close to last place on Joyce's list of things to do. Oh well. I get to go to Grass Valley every year on my day, so who's complaining?

So for those of you who actually are reading, what can I write about for Mother's Day this year? I know, I'll scan my iPad and see what songs I can find that have to do with dear old Mom!

For my money the best song ever written about Mother comes from Hazel Dickens. I like songs that tell a story, and this one about a young lady leaving home for the first time speaks to how a mother can strengthen and guide a child for their whole lifetime:

I thought of all the years she slaved
Thought of all the love she gave
She tried to make this run down shack a home
A dream that really died 'fore it was born

But she pulled us through the hardest times
And made us hold our head up high
A gift we'd carry with us all our lives
For we were so special in Momma's eyes

As I look back down that dusty road
To Momma and her heavy load
I knew what I was leaving I'd never find again
And it was hard to let go of Momma's hand

One old paper bag full of hand-me-downs
Plain old country girl raised on gospel sounds
With only the love she gave me, pride in what I am
And it was hard to let go of Momma's hand. My Momma's hand.

What exactly is a mother? Silly question maybe but think about it. Is it the person who gave you half of your DNA (or in case of a male like me more than half)? Or is it the person who raised you and cleaned up after you and nourished you in body and soul? If you're among the fortunate, one person answers both descriptions, but if I had to put my money on one or the other it would be the latter. Some ambiguity lies in between, as in this Charlie Poole song that you may hear Kenny Hall sing next month:

The Marriage rite is over
Although I turn aside
And keep the guests from seeing
The tears I could not hide

I wreathed my face in smiling
And left my little brother
To greet my father's chosen
But I could not call her Mother

Sadly, this child's natural mother has left the picture. In an old tune like this it would be assumed that she died but in our day divorce is often responsible. That makes it even harder to call her Mother:

(The Stanley Brothers)

A little tot was playing one night upon the floor
Her mother sat and and idly watched the little girl or four
All at once she dropped her toys and the tears began to shed
She climbed upon her mother's knee and this is what she said

Tell me why my Daddy don't come home
I know that I am much too big to cry
Why don't he come and play with me again
Momma, why did Daddy ever say goodbye?

I'm sorry. That's a rip your heart out sad song if you've ever listened to it and this is supposed to be a happy day when we all celebrate what our Mothers mean to us. But the fact is, in my random iPad surf, most of the songs I found were sad songs. As an interlude I'll give you this one from Lee Moore:

Oh it seems that I can hear my mother calling
>From the back door in which she often stood
Come, Son and run an errand from Mother
Hurry, Dear and bring me in a load of wood

Back to sad songs. Several I found concerned either the central role mothers play in shaping the moral foundation of a family or sons going off to war or both:

(Ricky Skaggs)

While kneeling by her bedside in a cottage on the hill
My mother prayed a blessing on me there
She was talking there to Jesus while everything was still
And I heard my mother call my name in prayer

(Joe Val)
Dear God watch o'er my boy in service
Help him win the victory
And when this cruel war is over
Send him safely home to me

(Norman Blake)
Tell my mother I will meet her
When my works of love and labor all are through
Where the good of earth are gathered with the faithful and the true
Tell her that her boy will meet her in the land beyond the blue

And many, many songs I found dealt with our mothers who have passed on:

(Jim & Jesse)

Dear old Mother how I miss you
How I long for your sweet face and sunny smile
I would give up all I own just to be with you at home
And to linger there for just a little while

(Monroe Brothers)

Shake my mother's hand and tell her (and then tell her)
Happy may your spirits be (your spirits be)
When the saints come out to meet you (out to meet you)
Oh, shake my mother's hand for me!

(Ralph Stanley)

I'll never forget the love mother gave us
As children we'd play around our old home
I know her reward is a mansion in heaven
While her children on earth are scattered and gone

(Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys)

Mother's not dead, she's only a sleeping
Just patiently waiting for Jesus to come
The birds will be singing while Mother is sleeping
They will sing o'er as the grave sinks away

(Mac Wiseman)

I was dreaming of a little cabin when I heard somebody call my name
I looked and saw a sweet old lady and it seemed I was a child again
She gently put her arms around me and kissed her little boy once more
And I knew it was the same sweet mother who had kissed me many times before.

Let's not end on a sad song:

(Seldom Scene with Linda and Emmy Lou)

One day a mother went to a prison
To see an erring but precious son
She told the warden how much she loved him
It did not matter what he had done

She did not bring (to him) a parole or pardon
She brought no silver, no pomp or style (none to see)
It was a halo bright sent down from Heaven's light
The sweetest gift, a mother's smile

Happy Mother's Day everybody.
 
Posted:  5/13/2012



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