Two mothers

Two mothers - one in the winter of her life, the other in the springtime of motherhood.

Both patients in a small hospital tucked away in a rural mountain valley, two mothers at the opposite ends of the spectrum.For one, the trek would soon end. She had walked the arduous trails of motherhood for 60 years. And now, at age 80 the victim of a cruel malignancy, she was nearing the end of the trail in mortality. The other, a new mother, was just beginning.

It is a cycle that has been repeated since the beginning of time.

"God planted within women," said President Gordon B. Hinckley, "something divine that expresses itself in quiet strength, in refinement, in peace, in goodness, in virtue, in truth, in love. And all of these remarkable qualities find their truest and most satisfying expression in motherhood." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 387.)

That certainly was true in the life of the dying mother, whose hospital bed was surrounded by many of her children and grandchildren as she lay there that day, the day that a newly born infant's cry came from an adjoining hall. In one room, there were fond remembrances of a dear mother who had given so much for so long for her children and grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, remembrances that were mixed with tears and expressions of love. In the other room, there were also tears and expressions of love, but these were mixed, not with remembrances but with a bright look of hope to the future.

Through the years, the elderly woman hadn't had much, nor did she ask for much. Even though times were tough for much of her life, she had a quiet contentment about her. Living on a farm where the spring thaws come late and the winter snows come early, she had known the painful reality of trying to eke out, with her husband, an existence in a harsh, unforgiving land. It was only within the past few years that she had enjoyed some of the niceties of life.

No, it wasn't modern conveniences that brought joy to her home; it was her children.

"Women for the most part see their greatest fulfillment, their greatest happiness in home and family," said President Hinckley. (Ibid., p. 387.)

But the elderly mother had also realized that with the joy of motherhood came a responsibility.

In her quiet, patient manner, and through selfless love and compassion, she had molded the lives of her children. By her example, she set the course for them to follow. Never a harsh word came from her lips. Never an unfavorable remark about another. Never an unkind deed toward any. Never a complaint.

She climbed the trail of motherhood to heights of happiness that she didn't know possible. But she also experienced the depths of sadness when her children were hurt or afraid, or stumbled along the way.

When she closed her eyes for the final time in this life and passed through the veil into immortality, she was laid to rest the day before Mother's Day in a grassy hillside cemetery, overlooking her beloved valley.

Two mothers - one who had finished the trek, the other just starting.

One, a mother remembered for kind words and deeds over so many years; the other, a mother honored as she begins the trek of caring for and nurturing her newborn child.

It is most fitting that we pay tribute to our mothers.

"Motherhood is the one thing in all the world which most truly exemplifies the God-given virtues of creating and sacrificing," President David O. McKay declared. "Though it carries the woman close to the brink of death, motherhood also leads her into the very realm of the fountains of life and makes her co-partner with the Creator in bestowing upon eternal spirits mortal life." (Gospel Ideals, p. 456.)

More than 50 years ago in the midst of World War II, the First Presidency issued a message, read in the October 1942 general conference, containing a prayer to God to "Stay the hands of the Destroyer." In the message, the First Presidency spoke of parents and said of mothers: "Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels." (Messages of the First Presidency 6:178.)

As we pause to commemorate Mother's Day, we must realize that honoring and remembering our mothers must never be limited to just one day a year. We should give thanks every day of our lives for our mothers - for their influence, their love, their nurturing, their divine role as co-partners with the Creator.

Our love for them should never grow dim.

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