Mothers have great power, in earth as in heaven. Those who are just, have the greatest power. Or, such was my thought, some many years ago, in observing a mother of the Italian ethnicity, something under five feet high, but all gristle. She had a delinquent adolescent son, over six (feet). He played extremely obnoxious rock-and-roll “music” on the roof deck next to mine. My reasonably civil request that he turn this down, was ignored. I asked again. The third time I asked, he turned it up, finally to the volume limit on his little machine. And then, while leaving that playing, he ran inside, promising to find a more powerful ghetto blaster. In his absence I tipped the first one off the roof deck. On the delinquent’s return, he grasped what I had done. This added to his excitement. Rather than take him up on his fresh offer — to toss me off the roof deck — I went inside, down the stairs to the street, then to this neighbour’s front door, beating upon it. I was hoping for an interview with one of his parents.

The juvenile delinquent was instead there first, shouting obscenities. His mother, however, arrived just behind him. She seemed very small, beside her delinquent son. But with a remarkable twist of her hand — a move more impressive than anything I had ever seen demonstrated in judo — she flicked him by his right ear into the hallway behind her. He became silent as a lamb. The lady thanked me, peacefully, in a mixture of Italian and English, for having destroyed the offending machine, and assured me that it would not be replaced. She then bid me withdraw from her family affairs.

This is my first “Mother’s Day” without a living mother of my own. Mine, as readers of this anti-blog may recall, was of the Gaelic not Italic heritage. She was also just, however, and had similar presence of mind. Nor did she have to plead to be obeyed.

She had a number of eccentricities, and one of them was distaste for the expression, “passed away.” She preferred the term, “dead.” It became a convention in our family to refer to the deceased as persons who had “doyed,” in tribute to the Cape Breton pronunciation. As a registered nurse, and old ward matron, she was well acquainted with death; did not look forward to her own, but still, accepted it as the sort of thing you get on this planet. I pray she has found a better place. (My mother would endorse this understatement.)

Much could be said about mothers, as a class. More could be said about them, individually. But the details are in a sense unnecessary, for it is given to sons and daughters, with very few exceptions, to know what I mean.