My mother lost her mother at an early age. All of her life she carried vivid memories of being passed from hand to hand, relative to relative, doing without, and never quite feeling like she belonged.
In her house all were welcome. Everyone belonged and food was love. No one ever went away hungry.
After my brother and I grew old enough to live independently, much of my mother’s affection was directed at her dog – an Airedale named Cassie. Cassie was the runt of the litter. Under Mom’s care she grew to be about as wide as she was tall. It was not uncommon to find Mom cooking an egg or boiling a chicken to “sweeten” the dog’s dinner.
At the time it seemed funny. Since then I have come to understand it as the manifestation of something more significant: It is possible to give without loving; but it is impossible to love without giving.
The truth of this observation is abundantly evident in our lives. What we call humanitarianism is nothing more than an extension of this basic instinct – a broader, more inclusive love. As every mother knows, the impulse to give to those we love is irresistible.
Happy Mother’s Day.