It's OK to be sentimental about Mother's Day

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Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass talks about the importance of Mother's Day.

There's always someone who will tell you, most usually in a nattering voice, that Mother's Day is all about the greeting card companies.

Or that Mother's Day is only for the florists, chocolatiers and hectic Sunday restaurants and hotels offering impossibly crowded brunches.

But today, I'm not that someone.

Now, if you think Mother's Day is too gender-specific, I politely invite you to go elsewhere, like France, where the words "mother" and "father" are under assault by the socialist government.

I suppose some fool will try that here, too, as government seeks to rearrange how we think. But I won't budge.

Why? I'm old school enough to like Mother's Day.

That small gift you give to her isn't really the idea. It's what comes after, when she opens the card and you share that look.

You could be in your 50s or you could be a teenager. It really doesn't matter how old you are. Child and mother have something that a child and father don't have.

But don't worry about the dads. We'll get our chance next month to be honored with various shaving products and items we've said we've always wanted from the As-Seen-on-TV aisle.

This day, however, is for mom. She didn't carry a sack of potatoes, did she? She carried life inside her and she gave life to you and grew you, and pushed you out in such pain that the female human being can't fully remember it. Or was it the raising of her child that helped erase the memory of the pain?

My wife's favorite Mother's Day gift is something the boys gave her years ago. They were quite young, perhaps kindergarten age, and I took the boys to a local gift store and released them. After they almost smashed several items — boys and gift stores don't mix — I calmed them down and told them to point.

Finally, they pointed to a tiny glass bird, dark blue. Betty treats it as the most valuable treasure in the world because it is the most valuable. Her boys selected it for her.

We almost lost her when she gave birth to the boys. The doctor saved her and one of the kids — the other one was just fine. Not a Mother's Day nor the boys' birthday can pass without an echo of that birth shadowing my wife's face. It's just for a moment. The boys don't notice the moving shadow, but I do. She tries to hide it, but I'm waiting for it, and she looks at me and she'll smile and squeeze my hand.

My own mom didn't have that much trouble. But just before my brother Peter was born, when it was time to go to the hospital, my dad was extremely nervous.

Mom was waiting, and he quickly got dressed, put on his shined shoes, and a jacket and tie, and calmly took her out to the car.

But he forgot something:

His pants.

"He was so embarrassed," my mom said. "No pants. He went back in and put them on. We just ignored it because he was so nervous."

She's doing well and has lived with us since Dad died, and this Mother's Day we'll have dinner at home. Perhaps we'll plant the garden. Many folks plant their gardens this Sunday because we're confident that Mother's Day means the end of frost.

About the only lament on Mother's Day is for the children of moms who have passed on. I know several this year who've suffered that loss.

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