I am who I am because of you!

The other day I was attending an equestrian event at the Millbrook arena with my son Jake, my oldest daughter, Katie, and Jim Hicks, our equestrian center partner. We were attending Katie’s competition, waiting for her score (she won blue), when Jake wandered over to a stable witnessing a new foal and its mother. Jake called to us, stating, “You will not believe how soft this baby is.” As the rest of us walked over to participate, the mother nudged its baby away to see what we were doing. It was only after she saw we meant no harm that she allowed us to be with her newborn.

This small, quick, simple interaction with my children and a friend caused me to think of my mother. Two things came to mind; first: I thought of the times in my life I have witnessed nature’s mothers protecting their newborns and a recent time when I felt deep in my soul my mother’s love.

First, there is the innate knowledge of a mother protecting her offspring. Once, I was in Denali National Park, driving to Mt. McKinley with our family, when we came upon a grizzly bear and her cubs. At first, when she was alarmed, she put herself in between her cubs and us. I quickly noticed there was nothing that would get through this mother to her cubs. On another occasion, we were in Jackson Hole and came upon a mother moose and her calf. This was a pretty sight, so I took some pictures. Later when showing others these pictures, we learned how dangerous it is to approach these large animals. They will strike by head-butting you if they feel you are a threat to their young. While living in Sydney, Australia, I learned during the spring you never walked under certain trees as the mother magpie (not similar to our North American birds) would come out of the tree and peck you on the head. This was done to keep anything away that the mother thought was a threat to her newborns. I thought of these times, even remembering mother geese chasing us as children to keep us away from the goslings, and I felt deep inside that I, as a son, have felt that same protection from my mother.

Second is the appreciation for my own mother’s love. A friend of mine is working on a once-in-a-lifetime project. He has an opportunity to offer the world art created from a mold of the original Michelangelo’s Pieta. The Pieta is a depiction of the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother, Mary, after His crucifixion. It was carved out of marble, where Michelangelo had studied the rock quarry to find the stone that held this piece. This beautiful art was carved in 1499 when the sculptor was 24 years old. It has become one of the world’s and history’s greatest sculptures. There are to be only 12 casts of this original mold; then, it must be destroyed. Permission was given to create 500 busts of Mary from the mold before it was shattered. I walked into this friend’s office, unaware of the art on his credenza. As I entered the room, I felt something different, and my eyes immediately caught sight of this marvelous piece of art. You see, I have never seen this piece in real life. Yet there it was! I was spellbound. I felt deep in my soul as I looked at the eyes of Mary holding her Son that there is nothing on earth as strong as a mother’s love.

Mom, on your 75th birthday, I want to share with you that I am who I am because of you! You knew as you were making the decision whether or not to have a child it would come with pain. Mothers know there is excruciating pain in giving birth, yet they proceed; they know there will be times their hearts will be broken by dumb decisions or experiments by their child, yet they proceed. Perhaps in your thoughts or deep in your soul, there was the knowledge it may be worth it, so you proceeded. So here I am! There were and may yet be times of pain, but just like the grizzly bear protecting her cubs, I know nothing will stop you.

You see, I knew from the time I entered this world that you would care for, defend, and shield me. You have given me wisdom, knowledge, and insight. When I was wrong, you chastised me with love. When I was right, your praise validated me.

Life has blessed me with a wife who, as a mother, has the same inner soul to guide and protect. I get to see firsthand how it must have been. I see in our three lovely daughters, your granddaughters, their innate ability to carry on in bringing yet others into our lives and world, with each generation improving on itself.

Thank you for choosing to have children and for honoring your commitment to raising and protecting me. From the bottom of my heart and with every emotion in my soul, I acknowledge you for being my mom and giving me life. I have participated, am participating, and will yet participate in the knowledge my mother is there for me just as these young animals must know and as Christ felt with Mary that dreadful day.

I love you.

Your son Jaren

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