Mother’s Day Surprise!

As soon as Brother Hansen said the closing prayer in church and the girls started handing out flowers to the mothers, I knew that we had forgotten. I looked down the bench at my brothers, Alma, Jarom, and Jared. Alma shrugged his shoulders. Jarom looked back at me with a sad frown on his face. Jared, who’s just two and a half, whispered, “What’s wrong, Aaron?”

“It’s Mother’s Day,” I muttered.

As we walked out of the chapel, I poked Alma with my elbow. “What are we going to do?” I asked him.

Alma shook his head, but I could tell that he was thinking hard.

Just then Dad touched me on the arm. “Aaron, Mom and I have a meeting for a few minutes. Do you boys want to wait here until we’re finished?”

Our house is just a little way from the ward, so I said, “We’ll walk home.”

“And we’ll take Jared with us,” Alma added.

Alma took Jared by the hand, and I took Jarom, and we headed home. Alma and Jared walked faster than Jarom and I, so by the time Jarom and I made it to our bedroom, Alma had all his money dumped out on the bed.

“Get your money,” he told Jarom and me.

It wasn’t long until all our money was piled in the middle of Alma’s bed, even Jared’s twenty-eight pennies.

Alma dropped to his knees, spread the money out, and started counting. He scratched his head and chewed his tongue a lot. Finally he scraped all the money into one big pile and announced, “There’s seven dollars and eighty-nine cents.”

“Is that a lot?” I asked.

Alma nodded.

“How much is it?” Jarom asked.

Alma tugged on his ear. “It could buy about twenty candy bars.”

“I want a candy bar,” Jared said.

“How much gum?” Jarom wanted to know.

“Maybe twenty-five or thirty packages. Or if we got it out of the gum-ball machines, we could each get a couple of pockets full.”

“I want some gum,” Jared said.

“Are we getting Mom gum or candy bars?” Jarom asked.

“I don’t think Mom would like candy bars or gum for a present.”

“What would she like?” Jarom asked.

“A dress or a purse or perfume or stuff like that,” Alma said.

“Are we going to buy junk like that?” I asked.

“Well, Aaron, it’s Mother’s Day. We have to get her something that she likes.”

“I think we ought to get her something good,” I growled.

“Yeah,” Jarom said. “If we get a purse she might not want it. Then she’ll just put it in the closet, and it won’t be any good to anybody. But if we get a lot of gum, even if she doesn’t like it, we can chew it for her.”

“I think that we can get a pretty good dress for five dollars,” Alma said. “With all our money we might even be able to get her some gum and candy bars too.”

“Let’s get the candy bars first,” Jarom grumbled. “Then if we have enough money, we can get a dress or something.”

“We can’t get her anything today,” I said, suddenly remembering. “Today’s Sunday. We don’t buy things on Sunday.”

We all looked at each other and sat down on the edge of the bed to think.

“I know,” I called out. “We can still give her the money, and tomorrow she can buy whatever she wants.”

We took the money, dumped it into an envelope, licked the flap, and closed it. Alma got a crayon and wrote, “To Mom from the boys.”

“But we have to do something for her today, too,” I mumbled. “Today’s Mother’s Day, not tomorrow.”

“I’m hungry,” Jared whined.

“That’s it!” Alma grinned. “We’ll fix a Mother’s Day dinner.”

Jarom and I looked at each other and then at Alma.

“I don’t know how to fix dinner,” Jarom said sadly.

“We can do it,” Alma said with a grin. “We’ll have the best Mother’s Day dinner ever.”

Jarom, Alma, and I changed our clothes, then we helped Jared change his. While Alma and Jarom worked on his bottom end, pulling off his shoes and pants, I worked on his top end and jerked off his shirt. It was pretty hard work because Jared thought that we were playing a game. But we finally got the job done.

A few minutes later we were all in the kitchen. Alma pulled open the fridge door, and we looked inside.

“Mom was going to have fried chicken and potatoes,” Jarom said.

“Do you know how to make fried chicken?” I asked Alma.

“No, but we don’t have to fix fried chicken. This is going to be a special dinner. We can fix anything we want.”

“I like peanut butter sandwiches,” Jared said.

“You don’t have peanut butter sandwiches for Sunday dinner,” I protested.

“Sure we can,” Alma said, still grinning. “Peanut butter sandwiches are good for you. Mom said so.”

“What do you want?” I asked Jarom.

He ran over to the pantry, stared at the shelves stacked with cans, and brought out a big can of pork and beans.

“I want baloney in it,” I said, grabbing a package of it from the fridge.

“OK,” Alma said, “but let’s hurry and fix everything before Mom and Dad get home.”

I helped Jarom open his can of pork and beans, and we dumped them into a bowl. Then we took the baloney slices, tore them into pieces, and mixed them in with the pork and beans.

Jared got out one of Mom’s loaves of bread, Alma cut it into slices. He got only eight slices out of the whole loaf.

“Aren’t the slices just a little thick?” I asked.

He laughed and shook his head. “Dad likes them thick.”

“But this is for Mother’s Day,” I pointed out.

“Well, we’ll just have to make open-face sandwiches and put on an extra layer of peanut butter.”

“What’s for dessert?” Jarom wanted to know, as Jared and Alma started digging out gobs of peanut butter and spreading it on the bread.

“Yeah,” I said, “we have to have dessert, especially on Mother’s Day.”

Jarom ran to the pantry and came back with two cans of applesauce.

Alma looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Looks good to me.”

“I want banana slices in it,” I said.

“And I want marshmallows in it,” Jarom insisted.

“All right,” Alma agreed, “but hurry!”

I dumped the applesauce into a bowl, then took two bananas and cut them up, dropping the chunks into the applesauce. I dumped half a bag of little marshmallows into it, too, then ran to get a spoon. When I got back, Jared was already stirring everything with his hands.

“Let’s set the table, now,” Alma called, putting the peanut butter sandwiches on the table. “Since this is such a special day, let’s use paper plates and cups and plastic spoons so that Mom doesn’t have to do the dishes.”

“We could do the dishes,” I said.

“Then let’s use paper plates for sure,” Jarom mumbled. “Then nobody will have to do the dishes.”

Just as I finished putting the plastic spoons on the table, we heard Mom and Dad pull up in the car. “Let’s hide,” Alma whispered. “When they come in, we’ll jump out and yell ‘Happy Mother’s Day!’”

Jared hid behind the couch, Alma and Jarom hid in the closet, and I ran into the bathroom and lay in the tub. We heard the front door open and close and Mom say, “It surely sounds quiet. I wonder what the boys are doing.”

“Maybe they went over to the Cauleys,” Dad suggested.

When Mom headed for the kitchen, we all ran out screaming, “Happy Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day!”

Mom jumped and Dad laughed and grabbed Jared and put him on his shoulder.

“Who fixed dinner?” Mom gasped, looking at the food on the table.

“We did,” Alma said, beaming.

“And it’s the best dinner ever,” Jarom said with a grin.

“Probably even better than dinner at a restaurant,” I bragged.

“I helped,” Jared shouted, wiggling out of Dad’s arms. “Let’s eat,” he added, pushing his high chair up to the table.

After we sat down, Alma exclaimed, “Oh, we forgot something!” He jumped down from his chair and ran into our bedroom. A few seconds later he dropped the money envelope onto the table—CLUNK!

Mom took one look inside and gasped, “Oh, you shouldn’t have. It’s all your money.”

“But it’s Mother’s Day,” I cried, “and nothing’s too good for you, Mom.”

“I’m hungry,” Jared shouted, banging on the high chair with his spoon. “Let’s say the blessing.”

“Was it a good Mother’s Day dinner?” Jarom asked when we were all finished.

Mom came around the table and gave us each a hug and a kiss. “That’s the very best Mother’s Day dinner that I’ve ever eaten,” she told us.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dale Kilbourn