Mothers the key to all that’s good and great in this world

Published 10:31 am Monday, May 15, 2017

by Tom Purcell

I wish every child could be blessed to have a mother like mine.

When my five sisters and I were babies in her womb, she never took so much as an aspirin for a headache — never ingested anything but the nutrients we needed to grow healthy and strong.

As a child, my world was rock-solid because of her. She put our needs so far before her own that we didn’t know she had needs. She loved us without condition. I was so unaware of the fear and pain less fortunate children suffer that I didn’t know such concepts existed.

I still can’t tell a lie, thanks to her, and I even blush when I’m innocent and people think I’m lying. The only thing she hates more than dishonesty is phoniness. She made sure we were, above all, genuine — genuinely concerned about the needs of other people rather than our own.

She enjoys simple things. The smell of a flower sends her into fits. The silliness of a child makes her laugh for days. She sits outside on the deck every morning, enjoying the smell of spring, the taste of fresh, hot coffee, and the conversation of her husband of 60 years.

She prizes graciousness and friendliness. She treats everyone the way she wants to be treated. She is always full of compassion and understanding. The phone still rings constantly at her home, people calling for consolation, reassurance or to be cheered up on a down day.

That is the first place I go on such days. When I am stressed by adult worries — demanding clients or deadlines I fear I cannot meet — I go to her home. Her presence fills me with calm — helps me put the worries of the day in perspective, and gives me newfound strength to overcome any challenges I face.

Her blessings extend far and wide in our family. She has 17 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren and her home is a wonderland to each of them — a place of unconditional love and laughter and imagination.

On her 80th birthday in January, all of her family members shared stories about how her nurturing and love has touched our lives in a video masterfully edited by one of my nephews. It was eye-opening, and at times laugh-out-loud funny, to see the profound and varied impact she has had on each and every one of us.

Though I have stumbled and fallen many times in my life, I have always gotten back up because my mother’s spirit is strong within me.

I often see beauty where others see ugliness. The smell of spring flowers and the silliness of children bring me joy.

I love coffee in the morning. I love how simple things can make me laugh for hours. I am a writer, a profession not for the faint of heart, because of mother’s endless encouragement.

For 55 years she has toiled, struggled, suffered and sacrificed on my behalf. She’s given everything she has without asking anything in return.

I am fully aware of how blessed I am to still have my mother in my life. She has loved me unconditionally no matter how foolish or thoughtless I have been. Her presence and example propel me toward greater beauty and goodness — continually inspiring me to become a better person.

Since the beginning of time, such mothers have been the key to all things great and good in the world.

I wish for every child to experience the blessings of a mother just like mine.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean McClanahan mystery novel, both available at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at