The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 13, 2012

Tom Lavis | Treasured cards pull at Mom's heartstrings

BY TOM LAVIS
TLAVIS@TRIBDEM.COM

JOHNSTOWN — My wife and I are anticipating going to our son’s home today for a family gathering to celebrate Mother’s Day.

By last count, four mothers will be among the celebrants, including my wife and daughter.

Nearly 20 years ago, I could never have imagined that our children would be married and the parents of two children each.

When our kids were young, it was up to me to buy gifts for the children to give to their mother.

Not to worry anymore. That responsibility is long gone.

But I received a great reminder two weeks ago about what is really important on Mother’s Day.

It was a day when I was searching for something I had stashed away in a place I would not forget.

But this is nothing new for me. I did it most recently with some special pins for the cover of a dehumidifier, a set of keys to my shed and the sales slip and warranty for a DVD player.

The dehumidifier is running with its switch duct taped to the side, a new lock was put on the shed and I’m out $189 bucks to replace the old DVD player with a Blu-ray.

I did find the owner’s manual to the DVD player, but no proof of purchase.

I looked in all my secret hiding places.

I even checked a shoe box full of old credit card statements marked “important papers” in a bedroom closet.

“Look in the cedar chest,” my wife suggested.

The chest is where we keep all the family pictures that are still waiting to be put in albums.

Digging around, I discovered another shoe box at the bottom of the chest.

This was different from the one in the closet. It had a pink ribbon wrapped around it and my mind began to race.

Could this be the one love letter I wrote my wife during our courtship?

I carried the box to the bed and gently tugged at the bow.

I opened the box and found about three dozen cards the kids had made while they were in elementary school. That was more than 30 years ago.

On top were Easter cards with a picture of what I think were rabbits. I believe that because there were some cotton balls in the box, which most likely dropped from the rabbits’ backsides.

At the bottom of the pile was a set of eight cards wrapped in a special blue ribbon.

The top card said, “To the World’s Greatest Mom.”

Inside were two handprints with the words, “I Love You, Tommy.”

I pulled the next card from the pile and an old teabag dropped to the bedspread.

The inscription on the card read, “When we get on your nerves, sit down and have a cup of tea.”

Each boy scribbled his name and put an X for their sister’s signature.

I called my wife into the room and we looked at the rest of the cards together.

The bright-colored construction paper cards were unfolded and we handed them back and forth.

We didn’t speak. We couldn’t. I had a lump in my throat the size of a baseball and my wife’s eyes were blurred with tears.

It is amazing that these small gestures done in grade school art class could mean so much.

It’s also hard to believe that the years have passed so quickly. My grandchildren are now making cards for their mothers.

I’m sure my kids never dreamed their mother would keep every card.

Raising three kids didn’t leave a lot of time for sentimentality. Especially when one kid hands his mother a card with one hand and spills a glass of milk with the other.

But the years have added more meaning to the cards.

It’s not too late for you young mothers to get a shoe box and ribbon for the cards you will get today.

These are items that should be stored in a safe place and their hiding place never forgotten.

Our cards went back into the cedar chest, or should I say treasure chest.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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