COLUMN: Ed Olfert — May 15, 2014

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Ed Olfert
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An old photograph of three blonde youngsters is a very real reminder of 40 great years.

 

I write this on Sunday, Mother’s Day.

As I awoke this morning, I peered across the profile of the face of the gal who currently sleeps beside me, who has slept there for more than 40 years (not counting daytime), and spotted a curled old photograph propped on her night stand. It pictured three grinning young cherubs, very blond and very tanned. These three, and all who they have gathered around them, represent the very best of those 40 years.

As Holly slept on, I recalled the previous day, Saturday. The youngest of our cherubs, now big and no longer so blond, had brought his family around for morning coffee. But Holly wasn’t in the coffee circle. She sat in the living room with the two blond little boys, had grabbed a plastic toy and was fully immersed into shouting into it, her microphone, exhorting the rodeo crowd to cheer on “cowboy Jordan” and “cowboy Josh,” as they mounted bucking broncs and rode them into the center of the room.

As cowboy Josh struggled to his feet after being roughly thrown off, (“the crowd goes wild but he’s up and he can hear you!”) cowboy Jordan waited in the chute, trying valiantly to control his impatient ride.

When Holly finally joined us around the coffee table, cowboy Josh was immediately pulling on her hand, begging for another round in the rodeo pen.

Later in the day, we drove to Saskatoon to visit an old friend, “Brad,” who resides at a halfway house there. I mentioned to Brad that one of the “man” things we had to do that day was to shop for a Mother’s Day gift for Holly. Brad is a somewhat intense individual, also somewhat convinced of his own good taste.

I managed to steer him away from jewelry stores where things glistened a lot, and we ended up at Cabella’s, my first visit there. Brad immediately focused on a clothing line with a strange name something like “Under Arm,”  found a camo coloured bunny hug, insisted on a hat to match ($30 for a baseball cap?) and then announced that we had to top it all off with 18 red roses.

Of course, none of this was Brad’s money. As Holly and I giggled about this later, she wondered if Brad had ever before been involved in Mother’s Day-related activities. His own mother had left the family when Brad was still very young.

Today, Sunday, our children took us out for supper. Giggling happened again, when the kids presented their mother/grandmother with her gift from them. It was a gift certificate to a tattoo parlour.

There were times in our active child rearing years when Holly questioned her ability to mother well. It was all so overwhelming, three little ones in three years, would she ever get caught up on sleep? Giggling and a tattoo ticket is, I suggest, a response to those long ago mothering ability concerns.

Of course, I was an understanding husband, a huge support during those intense years. Holly developed the routine, in our farm home, of putting the children to bed early enough that she would get a little alone time soaking in the tub. The bathroom door stayed slightly ajar in case the kids called.

One evening, I came into the house, guessed what the scenario was, and announced loudly, “Sure, the bathroom’s right over there, just go on in and use it!” There was some splashing, squeaking of wet skin on tub, and a loud slam! It was a while before it was a laughing matter.

A bit of history recounted, as I recall by our eldest, I believe, is that, when growing up, the kids learned which parent to approach depending on what they wanted. If it was a ride to go see someone, chances were best with dad. But if you were looking for cash, it would invariably be mom. Mom was always a sucker for the line, “But all the kids have them, everyone else will have some money.” Holly’s little ones wouldn’t, and won’t, be going without.

A significant and repeated phrase in the first chapter of Genesis, one that carries a significance we mostly miss, is the assurance, “God saw that it was good.” “It was very good.”

There is no more accurate, no more direct picture of the goodness of God’s creation, then the determination of a mother to protect and love and nurture her young. I am a little saddened that there are patriarchal theologies out there that may blind some from seeing that act of mothering as the best example we have of the instinctive goodness of God.

I am honoured, Holly, to sleep beside you. It is very good.

Geographic location: Jordan, Saskatoon

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