Mom and the Deacon’s Masterpiece

Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran one hundred years to a day,

Sunday is Mother’s Day. All around me, friends are losing their mothers. Face it, I myself, am probably past my “best-buy” date. Still, I have Mom and she’s going strong. Both mentally and physically. I can only hope to match her vitality.

I suppose that’s why Oliver Wendell Holmes’s poem, “The Deacon’s Masterpiece” makes me think of Mom. She seems indestructible. I can’t imagine life without her.

Holmes tells us how the deacon vows to build a carriage that can’t break down. He does this the same year that Lisbon is swallowed by an earthquake. (It really did happen in 1755!) The parson get the very strongest oak, the finest leather, the best steel, and the most skilled workmen to build his one-hoss shay…

…Do! I tell you, I rather guess
She was a wonder, and nothing less!
Colts grew horses, beards grew gray,
Deacon and deaconess dropped away,
Children and grandchildren – where were they?
But there stood the stout old one-hoss shay
As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake day….

Holmes goes on to tell us that a hundred years pass and the shay shows “A general flavor of mild decay,” but every part of it is as strong as the next, seemingly indestructible. Just like Mom.

Until the shay reaches 100 years. The parson is on his way to church, thinking about his next sermon.

…All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet’n’-house on the hill.
First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill, —

And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
At half past nine by the meet’n-house clock, — Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!
What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you’re not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once, —
All at once, and nothing first, —
Just as bubbles do when they burst…

Click here for the entire poem.

The past few days, I’ve thought of Mom like Holmes’s one-hoss shay. Each part as strong as the next; maybe just a few signs of decay, but sturdy and reliable. One day, I know she will no longer be here. Logic tells me it will happen. Still, I’m not ready. I imagine her gone all at once: an earthquake rumbling, like a bubble bursting. I’ll be like the parson, sitting on a rock, wondering what happened.

Most Mother’s Days I point my readers to one of my favorite posts over on my first blog, Once A Little Girl. I was that strong-willed child that every mother should have, just to teach her humility. Mom, in return, taught me patience and kindness and understanding. Please feel free to hop over here. I’m pretty sure the Little Girl me will make you smile.