Friday, May 11, 2012

The Father and the Son - A Mother's Day Story

This was originally written as a review for a homeschool unit study. I have since revised it into this story.

The father and his son sat together in the shade, leaning against the trunk of the old oak tree. It had been a hard day. They were both tired from working in their large garden and doing yard work. The air was sweet with the smell of springtime honeysuckle and roses - especially the smell of roses.
The yard was full of rose bushes. They were tucked between the azaleas and the hostas. They were planted beside the clematis and the iris. There were seventeen to be exact. Nine his dear mother had planted. Father would buy her one every Mother's Day. The other eight were the ones that father silently picked out and planted on each Mother's Day since she died.

The boy glanced over at the newest rose bush planted just days before. It was a pink variety that he knew that his mother would have loved. He didn't remember much of his mother. She passed away when he was only four years old. His father talked of her very little so the things that he did recall he clung to like a rare treasure. Still the memories were becoming foggy in his mind.

In the dimness of his memory was the picture of a kind but strong woman. She was full of life and vitality. Always doing for others, but never too busy to love and cherish her own family.

The boy also remembered the day of the accident. He recalled the last time that she hugged him and kissed him. His thoughts turned to the knock on the door and his father's rushing out while the kindly neighbor woman enveloped him in her arms and took him to her house to spend the night. The days that followed were a blur. His father's grieving - the confusion of a young boy who realizes that his mother is never coming back. Those were dark days.

The days had changed however. His father was always a cheerful man who loved living and loved his family. Although things were different, the father soon threw off the appearance of sadness and acted his cheerful self again. The father loved his son and wanted the best for him. He knew a sad home was no place to raise a young boy. So, with the Lord's help, he determined to make their home a happy home. And he did. The boy and his father were extremely happy and loved each other immensely. Still, occasionally, the boy could see a small wisp of sadness in his father's eyes. He knew that at those times Father was thinking about Mother. Those looks became more frequent in the spring when the roses were blooming and especially around Mother's Day when it was time to plant another bush.

The boy glanced at his father. Father's eyes were pointed toward a beautiful orange rose bush but his mind was far away.

"Should I?" the boy thought. "Is now the time?"

The boy had always longed to know more about his mother, but lately he was yearning to know more about mothers in general. For most of his life he'd had no mother. What were they like? He watched his friend's mothers and how they reacted to their sons. It always seemed to him that a mother's and son's relationship was a special one. He loved his father deeply and never wanted to hurt him, but their relationship was not the same. His face reddened slightly as he thought about the kindly neighbor lady who tried so hard to give him some motherly affection. His lips curved up as he thought about the embarrassing pecks that she would plant on his cheeks and the sudden hugs that she would give him. He knew what she was doing and loved her for it. Still, she was not his mother. She had her own brood to care for and to give her motherly love to. What was a mother truly like?

"Father," he suddenly blurted, "What is a mother like?"

Father's eyes came back to life and he glanced at his son.

"Mmmm? Your mother?" he said. "Oh she had soft brown hair and your beautiful green eyes..."

"No, Father." interrupted the boy. "Not my mother, know...mothers. What are mothers like? What is it like to have a mother?"

"I mean," stammered the boy as he stumbled for words after his sudden outburst, "We just celebrated Mother's Day and I don't even really know what a mother is. Oh father, I don't want to hurt you, but..."

The father didn't have a harsh bone in his body, but somehow his face softened even more than usual.

"Oh my son," he exclaimed as he wrapped his boy in his arms. "It is I who has hurt you. I have tried to be everything to you but in doing so I have failed to teach you about a mother's love."

They sat in silence for a few minutes and then his father unwrapped his arms, smiled and said in a matter-of-fact-tone, "But, it is not too late!"

He leaned back against the tree. "How do you teach a boy about mothers?" he mused as he plucked a long blade of grass and stuck the end into his mouth.

He thought for a moment and then suddenly jumped up and exclaimed, "I know just the thing! Come with me."

He scurried into the house as if on a mission with his boy hurrying behind him. “We're going to do a unit study on Mother's Day this week for homeschool.” he said as he sat down at his computer.

“What do we know about putting together unit studies, Father? We've never done anything like that before.”

“I'm sure it can't be too hard. Look at this!" He said after he had typed in a search for Mother's Day, "Look at all of the things we could do. There are web sites on Mother's Day crafts and Mother's Day recipes.”

“And,” he said excitedly, “here are some fun Mother's Day worksheets that we could complete!”
"Let's keep searching! I'll bet we can find a lot of fun ways for us to learn about mothers. We'll learn together." said Father enthusiastically.

And so they did. They had a wonderful time watching the videos and listening to special Mother's Day songs. They worked on the worksheets together and enjoyed learning about the history of Mother's Day. Each day they read about a different Biblical mother and what the Bible has to say about mothers. The boy even coaxed his father to tell him about his grandmother. He laughed at the stories his father would recall from the days of his youth. As the week went on, the boy began to understand what a Godly mother was, but, as each day passed, the boy became sadder.

The father noticed the change in his boy's demeanor but didn't know quite what was wrong. Finally, on Friday, while they were watching another video, the boy could stand it no longer. Before the movie was even finished he jumped up and ran from the house. Father found him beneath the same oak tree where they were sitting a few days earlier. The boy was sobbing uncontrollably.

The father put his arm around his son and held him close. He waited patiently for the lad to calm down enough to talk.

"What is it my boy?" he asked softly. "What is troubling you?"

"Oh Father," exclaimed the boy as he fought back another round of tears. "I have enjoyed learning about mothers so much...but...each day we seem to read about different things that we could do for our mother." "But, " he hesitated and hung his head, "I have no mother." And with that a fresh stream of tears began to trickle down his cheeks.

"My son," said the kind father. "Did we not learn about Ruth and Naomi in our studies this week? Ruth loved Naomi and left her own country to travel with Naomi back to the land that she had come from. Do you remember why she did it? She did it because Naomi was kind to her. She treated her as if she was her own daughter. She was the Godly mother that Ruth had never had."

As the boy listened he stopped crying and looked into his father's face with an inquisitive look.

"Son," continued the father, "You may not have a biological mother here on earth, but you do have mothers. Mothers that are kind to you and that love you. Think of Miss Esther, your Sunday School teacher, who always has a kind word for you and congratulates you when she hears of your accomplishments. What about dear old Mrs. Finster who always bakes two pies or two batches of cookies ~ one for herself, and the other to be sent home to us? And then, don't forget Mabel the kind lady who lives next door. She has five children of her own, but never seems to run out of hugs and kisses for you whenever you are around. They have already shown you what being a true, Godly mother is all about. They are your mothers."

The boy sat and thought and then, suddenly, his face brightened.

"I can't be sitting around here anymore, I have work to do." he exclaimed as he jumped up.

"Where are you going, Son?"

"I'm getting ready for Mother's Day. I know that the holiday is over, but shouldn't mothers be celebrated more than just one day a year? I'm going to honor my mothers today!"

And so he did. He used the ideas from the unit study. He made a special Mother's Day card for Miss Esther, his Sunday School teacher. He baked some heart shaped cookies for dear old Mrs. Finster. He lovingly made a Mother's Day craft for Mabel, the kind lady next door.

That evening his father helped him deliver his gifts. The boy sat with each recipient and thanked them for "adopting" him and being the mother that he didn't have. It never failed that as the boy and his father left, there were tears in the recipient’s eyes.

As they arrived home and the father was passing the kitchen table he noticed one more wrapped package sitting upon it.

"Son," he called, "Did we forget to deliver one."

Unbeknownst to him, the boy had silently entered the room behind him.

"No," said the boy softly as he picked up the gift, "This one is for you. You see Father, all of those dear ladies have been Godly examples of what a mother should be, but since Mother died, you have been both my father and mother. You are the one most deserving of my love on this special day."

The father carefully unwrapped the gift. Within the paper were the workbook pages he had completed in the past week's study on mothers. They were lovingly bound together with ribbon that the boy found among his mother's old sewing kit. Many of the pages had asked the student to describe different aspects of their mother. For some reason, those pages caught the father's eye more than the others. Suddenly he realized why. On each one of those pages his son had not written about his mother at all, but about him. As the father slowly closed the book, he noticed that on the front was a beautifully drawn picture. It was of a rose bush.

Now it was his turn to cry while his son placed his arms around him.

That night, as the boy lay in his bed, it dawned on him that he finally knew what a mother was. And, somehow, the memories of his real mother became all the more clear to him again.

This story is lovingly dedicated to:
My wife, Sarah Tinkel, whom I dearly love.
My mother, Dorothy Rose Tinkel, who passed away on February 14, 2011.
My mother-in-law, Carolyn Adcox, who has been a dear mother to me for the past 19 years.


  1. GREAT story, Tim! Brought tears to my eyes!

  2. Do you plant roses with your boys? Those in the pictures are pretty.

  3. Thanks for the kind comments all. Yes, Jennifer, we do plant a roses. If the count in my mind is correct we have 11 rose bushes at the moment.

  4. wonderful story! Very touching :)