Short Stories » The Mother's Heart
The Mother's Heart
IF children could realize how indifference and disrespect to parents wound the heart, they would never offend in that way. "Honor thy father and thy mother," is one of the first commands, and was intended to be obeyed as much as any other. When one of God's commands is disobeyed, a penalty is sure to follow, whether the transgressor realizes the cause or not. It may be that every disappointment, loss, sickness or affliction is a penalty merci- fully appointed to pay the debt here instead of here-after. If so, what a load we would carry with us into the next life to our great shame and hindrance if we do not expiate, in part, our faults while here.
If a person should make you a costly present, you would entertain the most pleasant feelings toward that one; your countenance would brighten and your step hasten to do some kindness in return, and this you would perhaps consider almost nothing in comparison. Yet, to those who gave you the first smile and welcome, shelter, food and clothing, loving care and teaching, do you respond as willingly ? If so, how sweet must be the thought ; if not, there will be much to regret some day.
If you were making some beautiful article for yourself, your time and materials being limited, and you should mar your workmanship beyond repairing, how sorrowful you would be ; but the spirit and the record you are moulding are what money cannot create or replace; neither can time efface from the faithful records of the heart, the vivid picture of a misused opportunity, an injured work of the soul. There is some consolation in the knowledge that repentance cancels part of the offense, if not its result; but the heart that never repents or seeks to amend its wrongs, the heart that fosters ingratitude, is cultivating an element that will at last destroy every bright attribute and hope.
Let me tell you a story or two from life to show you the tenderness of a mother's heart, its long, enduring love.
A woman past sixty years of age, a tailoress, lived near me. She had sons and grandchildren, and was very kind to them all, constantly helping to provide for the families, and even now and then lending some poor man or woman a sum of money to start business with; always cheerful and hopeful in her ways, and never idle. Early and late her sewing-machine was hurrying, and some persons hinted that she must have riches hoarded up. One day a young woman entered the shop, and the tailoress looking at the baby she carried in her arms, the baby responded with a coo and a spring toward her. "What do you think of my baby ? Just take her a minute," said the young mother. The gray-haired woman drew back, and a strange look came over her face. "I have never held a girl-baby in my arms since my own little girl died I cannot! " said she. "How long ago was that?" tenderly asked the young mother. "Thirty years," answered the poor woman, and the tears came so fast she had to wipe them away, and the rest of us had to wipe our eyes too. Long as we had known her, we had never had a thought that a secret, beautiful and sacred sorrow was hidden in her heart, but I know that ever afterward we who were in her shop that afternoon always spoke with tenderness to the poor old woman, as though we were partners in her sorrow.
THE GRAVE AT NEPHI.
There was another old woman, quite an eccentric person, whom some young folks used to smile at when she came to their houses with her basket of lace and other small things ; she was so lofty about her business, as though it were vastly more important than it really was, and so cheerful about it, as though it was a very delightful way of making her living. "I'm sorry you have to earn your living this way," said a young lady to her one day. " Why, my dear, it's just as well as for your father to be selling furniture the year around; I only has to earn a little bit for myself, and it brings in all I need, and I gets acquainted with lots of fine young folks, and I sees all the pretty things as I pass along as well as if I was riding, and I gets refreshed a bit, and when I goes home I've lots to think over that I've seen through the day, and that's better than sitting alone and fretting. I'm well off, my dear, to get what I need and lay a bit by for a future day." We all felt a little touched, and when she missed coming next week we hardly knew what to think, but the week after she came again, and we inquired if she had been sick. "No, my dears, I have been down to Nephi on the excursion train to visit my daughter." "Why, we didn't know you had a child living." "And I hasn't, my dears; my daughter has been dead and buried these eighteen years; only nineteen when she died; and every year I goes down once in the summer and takes my bouquet of flowers to lay on her grave, and I has my bread and cheese and bottle of cold tea, and I sits down by her grave till sundown, and we has a comfortable time together that lasts till I goes again."
Do you think we felt like smiling slyly at her odd ways after that? One of us went out and brought a tray with refreshments, and never forgot to do the same thing in all her after calls. She had kept her Decoration-day years before it had become a national custom.
Let me tell you of another mother's faithful heart. This woman had such love for children, such tender pity for the orphan, that she had, when we first met her, raised three adopted children of different parentage. One day a person said to her, "You never had a child of your own, did you?" "Yes, I have got a son of my own," proudly answered the dear old lady. The questioner paused in surprise, and thought, "Perhaps she left him for the Gospel's sake," and respectfully pursued, " Did you leave him in the old country?" "Yes, I have left my dear boy in the old country." "How old is he? and does he write to you?" "He does not write to me; he is twenty- three years old. He died when he was five." "Died? then you have not got him now!" "Yes, I have got him now; I have got him all the time, I have never lose him, he is mine."
Children, let these brief stories prove to you that each heart bears its own hidden, sweet history, and do be careful when meeting the aged, the poor and numble, to speak kindly and show them respect; perhaps this is all you can ever do for them, and you little know what might be revealed to claim your pity and admiration.