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John R. Eggers: All mothers are great

Who is the world’s greatest mother?

What if we took a poll to decide who is the world’s greatest mother? Who would win?

I am kind of surprised we haven’t done it already because we’ve decided what is the “world’s greatest” in every other category. We have the world’s greatest cities (Bemidji is not included.) We have the world’s greatest problem in the future. (According to some it’s global warming.) We have the world’s greatest shave. (The event is held some place in March each year.) How about the world’s greatest idea? (Here are three to choose from: marriage, capitalism and the saddle stirrup.)

NBA star Lebron James was just voted the NBA player of the year and would probably win as the world’s greatest basketball player. Who are the world’s greatest heroes? According to one list I found, here are the top 10: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Alexander the Great, Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther, Samuel Adams and Napoleon Bonaparte. I would have put Todd Beamer on the list (He’s the man who said “Let’s roll” on Flight 93 during 9/11.)

In April 1918, there was an ad that appeared in papers announcing the Greatest Mother in the World. The ad read like this: “Stretching forth her hands to all in need — to Jew or Gentile, black or white, knowing no favorite, yet favoring all.

“Seeing all things with a mother’s sixth sense that’s blind to jealousy and meanness; helping the little home that’s crushed beneath an iron hand by showing mercy in a healthy, human way; rebuilding it, in fact, with stone on stone and bringing warmth, to hearts and hearths too long neglected.

“Reaching out her hands across the sea to No Man’s Land; to heal and comfort thousands who must fight and bleed in crawling holes and water-soaked entrenchments where cold and wet bite deeper, so they write, than Boche steel or lead.

“She’s warming thousands, feeding thousands, healing thousands from her store; the Greatest Mother in the World — the RED CROSS.

“Every Dollar of a Red Cross War Fund goes to War Relief.”

You probably guessed the ad ran during World War I, which, by the way, was called the “The Great War to end all wars.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

When we think of great mothers, I think of Mother Teresa. She really wasn’t a true mother, but I’m sure all of the people she helped wouldn’t object to calling her “Mom”.

Then there is Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. She had to be some kind of a great mother. She was probably asking herself, “Why doesn’t he go out and find himself a job? And, who are those people that follow him? If he wants to do miracles, he could do a miracle and go out and marry some nice girl so I can have some grandchildren. Oy vey!”

We should have some criteria for selecting the world’s greatest mother. I can think of several categories.

There is the health category. Mothers look after you when you are sick and ask if you are feeling okay when you are well. Mothers like to know how their children are doing, health wise. Just recently, my wife asked me if I had gone into the medicine cabinet to get some aspirin. “Did you have a headache? What’s the matter?” Doctors don’t need these big diagnostic machines, just call a bunch of mothers in the room. They know. My own mother was the same way.

Another category would be talking and listening skills. Mothers enjoy talking and people open up to them much more than to men. My wife will be pushing her cart down the grocery store aisle and someone will come up to her and begin sharing their life story. I will ask her what took so long and she will say, “Well I got to talking to this person and one thing led to another and she looked like she just needed someone to listen to.” My own mother was the same way. She was always having neighbors drop in to have coffee and she would just sit and listen.

Great mothers have a knack for knowing about money. I could never understand why boys always seem to outperform girls in high school math classes. When those same girls get married and have kids, all of a sudden they turn in to a Warren Buffet. Clipping coupons is the key indicator for earning the greatest mother award in this category. Another one is if they see a penny in the street and will take the time to pick it up. My wife does both. So did my mother.

Great mothers know how to find things. They have this mysterious sixth sense. I’m not surprised that it was a woman who was the lead person in locating Osama Bin Laden. He didn’t have a chance once a woman got on the case. The other day, I could not for the life of me find my wallet. After 45 minutes of frantically chasing around the house looking in this drawer and that, my wife asked me if I had looked in my boots. “My boots, why would I look in my boots?” And then it occurred to me that I had put my wallet in my boot when I went to work out at the fitness center. It really is kind of uncanny. My mother was the same way.

The greatest trait about great mothers is that they possess common sense. I don’t like to get political but if mothers ruled, we would have fewer murders, fewer wars, fewer assaults, fewer abductions, fewer people in prison, fewer poor people and fewer really rich people. Why, because mothers know about compassion and when someone dies or is killed or is hurt, mothers feel it the most and they know how other mothers feel. Mothers possess a collective consciousness of common sense coupled with compassion.

So, who is the greatest mother in the world? I nominate yours and mine.

Happy Mother’s Day.

— John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.