By Debbie B.
Joe reined in his horse and slid down from the saddle. As he made his way over to the massive headstone that marked the final resting place of his mother, he pulled from his pocket a lone slip of paper and began unfolding it.
“I wrote you a letter, Mama,” he said in a low but thick voice. “I thought it might be easier to write down what I wanted to say to you than it would be if I just tried to put my feelings into word. I hope you don’t mind.”
Little Joe sat down and folded his legs Indian fashion. He cleared his voice.
“I hope this don’t sound too silly to you, or worse, too mushy. Anyway…here goes….”
This is your son, Little Joe…well, Joseph now. That’s what Pa and Adam and Hoss call me now…so I guess you can too, being as how I’m not a little boy anymore.
I’ve been out riding fence all day, that’s how come I haven’t been up to see you today, until now. I’m sorry I’m so late, but I couldn’t let today go by without making a special trip to wish you Happy Mother’s Day.
It may seem foolish to you, me coming up to your grave like I do just to wish you Happy Mother’s Day…but I come on your birthday too, and Christmas, and New Years. Why, I even come on Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, just to be sure you’re wished the best, no matter what the season.
Pa comes to and so does Adam and Hoss; but we come at different times, most of the time. I know they like to wish you well too, them having known you longer than I have, especially Pa. I know he misses you something awful, even after fifteen years. You were such a joy to him, you brought him such happiness and he loved you so much. He’s always telling me how wonderful you were, how you loved Adam and Hoss as if they were your own sons and how you always made such a fuss over me.
I wish I could remember you better, but it’s hard what with you dying so suddenly and me being only a little boy. But Pa is always willing to share with me, the times that we had together. Adam and Hoss remember you well too, and sometimes when everyone is talking about you, I sort of feel left out…like I wasn’t a part of it all. I know they don’t mean too and I try not to let my hurt show, but I think more times than not, Pa sees the pain in my eyes. I’m not good at masking my feelings like brother Adam is. I’m an open book, Pa says. I carry my feelings on my shoulders for the world to see. But he says he likes me that way because I remind him so much of you. He gets real choked up at times when he’s talking about you and me and how much alike we are. I’m glad though…I mean, I like being like you; it makes me feel that much closer to you, like now, as I’m sitting here next to you, reading this letter to you.
I come up here to the lake a lot when I need time by myself, or when I’m troubled about something, though when I’m here with you, I don’t really feel like I’m by myself. I can feel your presence and I feel your love surround me like a shield and somehow I don’t feel so bad anymore and the problems don’t seem to be such mountains.
There’s something about a mother’s love. It’s never ending Pa has said so on numerous occasions. No matter the distance between her and her children, there’s no barrier to her affection. Not even death can bar Love’s path to her children.
Pa told me that a long time ago, after you died and I was crying one night. He came into my room and caught me…golly I was embarrassed. I was about ten years old and Pa had caught me crying. I couldn’t lie about why I was so sad, I just told him the truth. I explained how much I missed you and how I felt that you didn’t love me anymore and that you had forgotten me. I guess I was feeling a little guilty because it was me that was having a hard time remembering you. I couldn’t remember what you looked like, or the sound of your voice. That’s when Pa gave me the little cameo picture of you that has always been beside my bed since that night. And he told me that it was alright that I couldn’t remember what you looked like or the sound of your voice, because I always had your love to remind me that you were still close by. I’ve never forgotten that, Mama…and now, years later, it’s even harder for me to remember your face and your voice, but I’ve never forgotten your love. I can feel it now…you’re close by, I can tell.
There’s so much that I’d like to share with you. But I know most of them will have to wait. I do want to say thanks Mama for giving me life. Thanks for the short time that you and I had together. I cherish all the stories that my family has shared about you and of our time together, be it too short. What visions I see and the expression of your love that I feel when standing here, I thank you. You are a terrific mother, and I’ll cherish your love until the day I die and am reunited with you. And I have the picture to remind me of your smile and the happiness I see in your smile and joy that makes your eyes sparkle. The night that Pa gave me that little cameo was the best night of my life. I know he held it dear to his own heart, but he told me that he had the most wonderful memories of you locked in his heart and he said that he felt as though I needed the picture more than he did. I almost started crying all over again, but he said if he needed to see your lovely face, he’d just make a quick trip to my room and take a peek at your picture. He a great father, and I want you to know, I’m proud that you loved him enough to marry him and…well…enough to have his son…I’m proud to be that son too, just so you’ll know!
Well, it’s getting late and I’d best be getting home. I don’t want Pa to worry…he’s does worry so much about us boys as he still refers to us three.
I hope you’ve had a good Mother’s Day up there in Heaven, Mama. I suppose that God sets aside this special day for all the mothers; I figured He would, since Jesus’ mama, Mary, is there with her son. Someday I’ll be there with you and when that day comes, we’ll have a great party and we can celebrate all the Mother Days that we’ve missed down here. It will be a grand time and I look forward to being with you again.
Until then, please know that I love you. Your passing set my world upside down for several years afterwards. But thanks to the great father that Pa has been and the terrific brothers I have, I have managed to work through my grief. That’s not to say that I don’t miss you because I do…even now I miss you. But with God’s promise that we will meet again carried in my heart, it gives me hope that we’ll see each other one day.
If you happen to see Elizabeth and Inger, tell them for me that Adam and Hoss are the best there is. They’d be proud of their sons and so would you mama. I only hope you are proud of me…Adam says I still have a long way to go being a man, Hoss will never think of me as anything but his baby brother…and Pa says that I’ll always be his little boy…no matter how old I get!
So, from your little boy, I wish you a Happy, Happy Mother’s Day.
Joseph Francis Cartwright.
Joe sat for a moment longer before brushing his hands over his eyes. He then stood to his feet, folded the little note and tucked it away in his pocket. As he pulled his hat down over his head, he glanced around, taking in the beauty of the lake far below. When he glanced up, noting the billowing white clouds, he smiled.
Turning, he looked down at the tombstone and tipped his fingers to his hat.
“I’ll be seeing you again, Mama,” he whispered. “Happy Mother’s Day.”
The handsome young son of Marie Cartwright swung into the saddle and gently nudged his horse homeward. He didn’t look back, but instead kept his eyes straight ahead. For a brief second he felt cheated, but then from behind him, he felt the warmth of his mother’s love wash over him, comforting him, letting him know that she was there and more so, reminding him that not even death can conquer the power of a mother’s love. He smiled; he was at peace and hoped that sons and daughters everywhere felt as he did at that exact moment, loved.
Return to Debbie B.’s home page
Our authors appreciate comments on their stories. If you would like to send comments on this story, click on the author’s name at the top of this page.