In honor of Mother's Day, I'd like to share excerpts from the talk, 'Behold Thy Mother' by Thomas S. Monson.
The talk, in its entirety, can be found here.
"....One summer day I stood alone in the quiet of the American War Memorial Cemetery of the Philippines. A spirit of reverence filled the warm tropical air. Situated amidst the carefully mowed grass, acre upon acre, were markers identifying men, mostly young, who in battle gave their lives. As I let my eyes pass name by name along the many colonnades of honor, tears came easily and without embarrassment. As my eyes filled with tears, my heart swelled with pride. I contemplated the high price of liberty and the costly sacrifice many had been called upon to bear.
My thoughts turned from those who bravely served and gallantly died. There came to mind the grief-stricken mother of each fallen man as she held in her hand the news of her precious son’s supreme sacrifice. Who can measure a mother’s grief? Who can probe a mother’s love? Who can comprehend in its entirety the lofty role of a mother? With perfect trust in God, she walks, her hand in His, into the valley of the shadow of death, that you and I might come forth into light.
The holiest words my tongue can frame,
The noblest thoughts my soul can claim,
Unworthy are to praise the name
More precious than all other.
An infant, when her love first came,
A man, I find it still the same,
Reverently I breathe her name,
The blessed name of mother.
In this spirit, let us consider mother. Four mothers come to mind: first, mother forgotten; second, mother remembered; third, mother blessed....."
Millais, 'Grandmother's Apology', 1859
"....“Mother forgotten” is observed all too frequently. The nursing homes are crowded, the hospital beds are full, the days come and go—often the weeks and months pass—but mother is not visited. Can we not appreciate the pangs of loneliness, the yearnings of mother’s heart when hour after hour, alone in her age, she gazes out the window for the loved one who does not visit, the letter the postman does not bring? She listens for the knock that does not sound, the telephone that does not ring, the voice she does not hear. How does such a mother feel when her neighbor welcomes gladly the smile of a son, the hug of a daughter, the glad exclamation of a child, “Hello, Grandmother!”
There are yet other ways we forget mother. Whenever we fall, whenever we do less than we ought, in a very real way we forget mother.
I recall talking to the proprietress of a nursing home. From the hallway where we stood, she pointed to several elderly women assembled in a peaceful living room. She observed, “There’s Mrs. Hansen. Her daughter visits her every week, right at 3:00 P.M. on Sunday. To her right is Mrs. Peek. Each Wednesday there is a letter in her hands from her son in New York. It is read, then reread, then saved as a precious piece of treasure. But see Mrs. Carroll: her family never telephones, never writes, never visits. Patiently she justifies this neglect with words that are heard but do not convince or excuse: ‘They are all so busy.’”
Shame on all who thus make of a noble woman “mother forgotten.”
“Hearken unto thy father that begat thee,” wrote Solomon, “and despise not thy mother when she is old.” Can we not make, of a mother forgotten, a mother remembered?"
"Men turn from evil and yield to their better natures when mother is remembered. A famed officer from the Civil War period, Colonel Higginson, when asked to name the incident of the Civil War that he considered the most remarkable for bravery, said that there was in his regiment a man whom everybody liked, a man who was brave and noble, who was pure in his daily life, absolutely free from dissipations in which most of the other men indulged.
One night at a champagne supper, when many were becoming intoxicated, someone in jest called for a toast from this young man. Colonel Higginson said that he arose, pale but with perfect self-control, and declared: “Gentlemen, I will give you a toast which you may drink as you will, but which I will drink in water. The toast that I have to give is, ‘Our mothers.’”
Instantly a strange spell seemed to come over all the tipsy men. They drank the toast in silence. There was no more laughter, no more song, and one by one they left the room. The lamp of memory had begun to burn, and the name of Mother touched every man’s heart.
As a boy, I well remember Sunday School on Mother’s Day. We would hand to each mother present a small potted plant and sit in silent reverie as Melvin Watson, a blind member, would stand by the piano and sing “That Wonderful Mother of Mine.” This was the first time I saw a blind man cry. Even today, in memory, I can see the moist tears move from those sightless eyes, then form tiny rivulets and course down his cheeks, falling finally upon the lapel of the suit he had never seen. In boyhood puzzlement I wondered why all the grown men were silent, why so many handkerchiefs came forth. Now I know: mother was remembered. Each boy, each girl, all fathers and husbands seemed to make a silent pledge, “I will remember that wonderful mother of mine.”
Some years ago I listened intently as a man well beyond middle age told me of an experience in his family history. The widowed mother who had given birth to him and his brothers and sisters had gone to her eternal and well-earned reward. The family assembled at the home and surrounded the large dining room table. The small metal box in which mother had kept her earthly treasures was opened reverently. One by one each keepsake was brought forth. There was the wedding certificate from the Salt Lake Temple. “Oh, now Mother can be with Dad.” Then there was the deed to the humble home where each child had in turn entered upon the stage of life. The appraised value of the house had little resemblance to the worth Mother had attached to it.
Then there was discovered a yellowed envelope that bore the marks of time. Carefully the flap was opened and from inside was taken a homemade valentine. Its simple message, in the handwriting of a child, read, “I love you, Mother.” Though she was gone, by what she held sacred mother taught yet another lesson. A silence permeated the room, and every member of the family made a pledge not only to remember, but also to honor mother."
"Now that we have considered “mother remembered,” let us turn to “mother blessed.” For one of the most beautiful and reverent examples, I refer to the holy scriptures.
In the New Testament of our Lord, perhaps we have no more moving account of “mother blessed” than the tender regard of the Master for the grieving widow at Nain.
“And it came to pass … that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
“Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
“And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
“And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.”
What power, what tenderness, what compassion did our Master and Exemplar thus demonstrate! We, too, can bless if we will but follow His noble example. Opportunities are everywhere. Needed are eyes to see the pitiable plight, ears to hear the silent pleadings of a broken heart, yes, and a soul filled with compassion, that we might communicate not only eye to eye or voice to ear, but in the majestic style of the Savior, even heart to heart. Then every mother everywhere will be “mother blessed.”....."
(From 'Behold Thy Mother' by Thomas S. Monson, Ensign April 1998)