Perhaps like most teenagers, I have taken my parents’ love for granted. I never really considered the immeasurable amount of time, effort, money, or patience they spent on me. Particularly with my mother was this the case.
It seems, now, that many times I resented my mother, resented things she stood for, things she asked me to do, things she told me about her childhood life. I resented the fact that I, as the eldest of seven children, had all the responsibility; or so I felt. It was up to me to set the example—a word I grew to hate—to lead the way, to try things and get into trouble so that, it seemed, the way was clear for the other children to do just about what they would. I remember how I resented the certain tone of voice Mother used to call me to help her. Certain phrases stand out in my mind, and I can hear the tone even now:
“Kristy, help me with dinner.”
“The twins need their shoes cleaned.”
“Kristy, Sue and Gay are quarreling; can’t you do something?”
“Nancy needs some attention; would you read her a story?”
I always felt like saying, “No,” but, of course, I didn’t.
Then September came and I went away to school. All my younger life the school had carried with it a romantic aura to me. It was there my parents met; there they fell in love and were married; there I was born. So I anxiously looked forward to going—for me—“home.”
But at that time, in September, there was more to it than that: I wanted to get away from home—my real home. And yet, as time passed and I read my mother’s letters telling me about the day-to-day things she did, I began to realize, deep within me, that she gave all her time, money, effort, and thought to her children. I learned that all the meetings, all the shopping, all the housecleaning, all the teaching—actually everything—was directly or indirectly related to serving her family. And all this I learned so slowly and subtly that I barely realized the knowledge was there.
Then one day I came home from my morning classes and found a letter from my mother. It was a simple, ordinary letter, full of the news of home. It told how Dave and Dan, the twins, had flushed a whole roll of tissue paper down the toilet, which flooded over just as Mother was ready to leave for Relief Society. It told of how Mother simply had to find the time to give Sandy a haircut. It told of Mother taking Nancy to dancing lessons, and watching her, and being so proud of her.
It was just a regular, everyday letter, but I had scarcely reached the second page when a feeling suddenly started within me and spread throughout me. It was like the sun bursting from behind a cloud, spreading its sunshine. I could all of a sudden see my mother as she really was—an unselfish, loving, and celestial being, the person who had done more for me than anyone else, and yet the person to whom I gave the least credit.
I threw myself on my bed and cried; cried with the gladness of the sudden discovery; cried with the unhappiness of my ingratitude, and how it had undoubtedly hurt my mother. I quickly wrote her a letter and told her of my love and appreciation for her. It wasn’t a good letter, but it was a sincere one; and she wrote back just as quickly:
“Dearest Kristy, I read your letter, and I wept.”