"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it."
Leave it to Mark Twain to say something simple, elegant and accurate about a mother's unconditional love and commitment.
Mother's Day is celebrated in the United States on the second Sunday in May, but actually, every day should be Mother's Day. Mother is everything. Life does not exist or propagate without a mother.
Nothing in this universe is greater than a mother's love. A mother provides and protects. A mother will fight any element to death, to protect her child. A mother nurtures not only physical but emotional health. She is the custodian of moral, ethical, cultural and spiritual growth. A mother is the best mentor and most influential person for any individual.
"All I am, or can be, I owe it to my angel mother," said Abraham Lincoln.
The only advice I gave my 16-year-old son when he left home for Harvard University was to "call your mother every single day." He did and still does at age 32.
I often hear people express frustration about how their elderly mother does not understand what they are saying, cannot or does not follow their instructions, does not make any sense when she is talking, does not eat right or take her medications, stays up all night, tends to fall and break things, becomes irritable for no good reason, or becomes sick too often.
Do you think that it ever bothered any mother when her children were doing exactly the same things as they grew up? Like Mark Twain said, she probably enjoyed all those annoyances immensely. Shouldn't the children be returning the favor, out of responsibility, if not respect and affection?
Don't forget grandmothers, Godmothers, adoptive mothers, stepmothers and second mothers. The dictionary definition of mother includes a female who has adopted a child or otherwise established a maternal relationship with another person.
Growing up, the first few years of life, I always thought that I had two mothers. Later I found out, one was my birth mother and the other was my grandmother. I used to call both "mother." If I called for mother, when both of them were in the same room, they knew exactly which one I was calling depending on my need. They divided up responsibilities among themselves.
Like all other happy families in the village, four generations of us lived in the same big, sturdy house. My grandmother was the matriarch. I never heard of the word "divorce," until I went to the city at 16, to attend medical school.
Until I came to the United States, I always took my grandmother's advice for all the critical decisions of my life. Not because I was dumb or controlled, but because I was smart enough to respect the wisdom of my elders, taking advantage of their life experiences. My grandmother did not have a formal education (there was no school or library in the village). But she had her own human Internet of concerned mothers and grandmothers. She made me walk or bike 2 miles each way across the fields every day to attend school in the nearest town, even though I would have been just as happy hanging around with my grandfather all day on the farm.
My grandmother knew enough about the world. She decided that I should come to the United States for advanced education. She thought that there was a better life in the distant land. It was definitely not for financial reasons. Even though I was born in a small rural village in India, we were well-to-do, being a part of the farming community in the serene suburbs. I already finished medical school in India. In those days, the practice of medicine was the most respected profession with guaranteed success in life, by any measure.
That was a big sacrifice for my mother and grandmother to send me away. I was the only son to my father, who was the only son to my grandmother. They knew very well that they would not be able to enjoy raising my son and I would not be there when they needed me. More importantly, I would not be there when they died. (Both of them eventually passed away, and as expected, I could not get flights in time.)
That kind of sacrifice can come only out of a mother's love.
I hope my mother and grandmother approve of what I did with my life and more importantly, how much I try to improve the lives of others in the community that I call my home. I sincerely hope that their sacrifice helped some people in some small way.
Dr. Rao Musunuru practices cardiology in Bayonet Point. He is the recipient of 2008 Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award from West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.