March 2013

On the third day

Fall Eye © David L. HarkinsMy mother and I did not always agree.

As a child, I acquiesced as children must, but as an adult, I was prone to speak my mind. Once, at age 19, I chose to be too vocal within my mother’s reach and promptly had my mouth smacked. Stunned, I walked away in silence, not to rethink what I had said because what I said was the truth. Instead, I needed to reconsider the timing and delivery of the words, which were the cause of my stinging mouth.

Mom shared my gift of impulsive honesty with words, which is why she likely did not like to be the recipient of the same. Often she would speak without thinking, saying those things on her mind before others were ready, or even needed to hear them. My dad once told me, “Your mother thinks you should not say some of the things you say to her.” She saw value in her trait to cut to the heart of matters and speak honestly; she was less appreciative of it in others, particularly when she was on the receiving end of the words.

We lived apart much of the last of her life, yet this did not stop our honest conversations. On the phone several times a year, in the silence of waiting for her response to something I had said, I would hear a “click,” and then a dial tone. Although the distance saved me from a slap across the mouth, I felt the sting just the same. Silence became my mother’s punishment of choice, or perhaps a necessity.

It was best to let mom take the time to think and regroup when she was angry. She always called when she was ready to talk again and rarely did she make mention of our last conversation. A few years before she died I realized she had a pattern in her periods of silence. Each time she disconnected from me, the breaks would be exactly three days. She always called on the third day, and I apparently was forgiven for whatever I had said in the previous conversation. When I mentioned this pattern to my dad, he said with a smile, “And on the third day, the son rises again.”

It occurred to me then, forgiveness and resurrection are not solely Christian concepts, nor a power and capacity only God possesses. Through her actions, mom proved to me we all have the power and capacity. In those three days of silence, I was forgiven and resurrected. Over, and over, and over.

For her love, for her lessons, for her forgiveness, and my repeated resurrection. I am, forever, grateful.

Photo Credit: “Fall Eye” ©2012 David L. Harkins

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