"Men Are What Their Mothers Make Them"
IT was Saturday morning. Mrs. Orman sat on her porch in the warmth of the May sunshine watching her husband plant their vegetable garden. Suddenly a great longing to see the boy who had helped him the year before came over her. But she knew that could not be, for he was finishing his first year at a college some distance away and would not be home till the first week in June. Even Mother's Day could not stretch their budget for an extra trip home.
She was roused from her thoughts by the mailman whistling the strains of "Mother McCree."
"That is worth paying for, your whistling, I mean," she called to him as he was putting her mail in their box by the side of the road.
"For that compliment, I'll bring your letter and give it to you myself. Sure and its from that big handsome son of yours away at college. It's mighty proud of him you should be."
"Thank you, Mr. McDougal, I am proud, but a little lonely, too, this morning."
"The letter will cheer you up. I'll be going along so you can read it."
With a smile Mrs. Ormon opened her letter and began reading:
Dear Mother: Wish I could be talking to you instead of writing, but that cannot be, but someday, Mother, I'll be so successful--I hope--that I can come home every Mother's Day. But this time this letter and the small remembrance I am sending must suffice.
Now, Mother, don't say, "You shouldn't have" about the gift. I couldn't think of getting a corsage for Barbara to wear last night and not remember my favorite girl on her special day.
"And who is Barbara?" I hear you ask. You would like her, Mother. She invited me to go with her to a party given by one of her sorority friends. She's beautiful, easy to talk with, and a good dancer. It was a formal affair, and Barbara looked like a million in her dress, but it was modest, Mother, which is more than I can say for some of the creations the girls wore.
You should have seen me in a Tuxedo, the first I've worn. No, dear little Mother, I didn't have to rent one so I'm not low on cash as a result. My roommate had one and he was generous enough to let me wear it. It fit perfectly. Strange how the wearing of a tuxedo made me feel important and dignified and sophisticated. If I do say so, Barbara and I made a handsome couple.
I enjoyed the dancing, every moment of it, but when we were seated for a midnight banquet and pretty little waitresses began filling the small crystal goblets with wine or champagne--I'm not familiar with such drinks, as you know, so can't say for sure--I knew a few moments of panic. It was as if hot fingers were clutching at my throat. I knew what I should do, Mother, for the Word of Wisdom has always been lived in our home. But could I be different and face the consequences. Would it really matter to do as the rest just this once and be recognized as one of the crowd and belonging? I looked at Barbara and read a challenge in her eyes. The smiling waitress was but a few plates away. Indecision seemed choking me.
UDDENLY I was a boy again: It was the morning of my twelfth birthday, a bright, sunny morning, the day I arrived at the important age when I could be ordained a deacon and begin scouting. The scout oath passed through my mind and I remembered you had given me the scout handbook to study a few months before so I would be all ready to be a real scout when I was twelve. Again I saw my birthday cake with its roses and candles and "Happy Birthday, Richard!" Once more my eyes rested on your gift, a book, A Young Folks History of The Church, in which you had written, "You will receive the Priesthood today. Magnify it." Again I was holding a sealed letter I found in the book. On the outside of the envelope you had written, "To be opened on your twenty-first birthday, and telling the kind of man I think you will be then."
It was as though a clean canyon breeze blew across my soul. My mind cleared. I turned to the little waitress about to fill my glass, smiled, and said, "No, thank you." Then I turned to meet the scoffing rebuke I expected to see in Barbara's eyes. Instead, I saw them light with the gladness of relief, and smiling, she, too, said to the waitress, "No, thank you." To my astonishment, several others at the table refused, and some of the filled goblets were never raised to the lips of those who had lacked the courage to say no.
When I said goodnight to Barbara at her door, her eyes were shining as she said, "Thanks, Richard. I'm so grateful to you and proud of you. I have never tasted liquor of any kind, and now I am sure I shall be able to keep my record clean. I had decided to do whatever you did."
Thanks, Mother, for all you have taught me, and thank Dad for me. Had it not been for your teachings in many different ways, I would not have been able to say no. And, Mother, I still have two more years before I can open your letter. I shall try to live so I can read it unashamed and with no regrets.
Good night, Mother, and all my love.
Your son, Richard
EARS were running gently down Mrs. Ormon's face as she finished the letter. Thankfulness welled up in her heart. She knew the sweetness of humility as she breathed a prayer of gratitude.
"Why the tears, my dear?" It was her husband who spoke. "Not tears of sorrow, I am sure, for there is a radiance in your eyes. You are beautiful, Mother, 'smiling through!' Here, let me dry your eyes." He did so, then kissed her tenderly. "Now tell me all about it."
For answer she handed him her letter. When he finished reading and turned to her there were tears in his eyes, also, and he said softly, "Emerson was right: 'Men are what their mothers make them.' "
She looked in her husband's eyes for a long moment. There was tenderness in her voice and love and gratitude as she answered gently, "I believe you are right, my dear." She paused briefly then continued, "What a wonderful mother you must have had."
The sacred moment was broken by the click of the gate. The boy from the florist's handed her a long slender box, received her "Thank you" and went on his way.
With eager, trembling fingers she remove the wrappings, opened the box, and saw one long-stemmed perfect white rose. On the card was written: "The white rose of purity. Love, Richard."