In the meantime, I attended Mother’s Day church services yesterday. And in the message, the pastor recounted the soul-stirring story of a mother and son.
The tale took the form of the son’s first-person testimony:
“My mother only had one eye. All my life, I hated her because she was such an embarrassment to me.
My mom ran a small shop at a flea market. She collected little weeds and such to sell. Anything for the money we needed. She cooked for students and teachers to support the family, she was such an embarrassment.
There was one day, during elementary school, when my mom came to say hello to me. I was so embarrassed. How could she do this to me?! I ignored her, threw her a hateful look and ran out.
The next day at school one of my classmates said, “EEEEWW, your mom only has one eye!”
I wanted to bury myself. I also wanted my mom to just disappear.
So I confronted her that day and said, ‘If you’re only gonna make me a laughing stock, why don’t you just die?’
My mother remained silent. I didn’t even stop to think for a second about what I had said, because I was so full of anger. I was oblivious to her feelings. I wanted out of her house.
I guess I felt a little bad, but at the same time, it felt good to think that I had said what I’d wanted to say all this time. Maybe it was because my mom hadn’t punished me, but I didn’t think that I had hurt her feelings very badly.
That night, I woke up and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. My mom was sitting there at the kitchen table, crying quietly, as if she was afraid that she might wake me.
I took a look at her, and then turned away. Because of the thing I had said to her earlier, there was something pinching at me in the corner of my heart. Even so, I hated my mother who was crying out of her one eye. So I told myself that I would grow up and become successful, because I hated my one-eyed mom and our desperate poverty.
Then, I studied really hard and got accepted to university. Then, I got married. I bought a house of my own. Then I had kids, too. Now I’m living happily as a successful man. I like it because it’s a place that doesn’t remind me of my mom.
This happiness was getting bigger and bigger, when someone unexpectedly came to see me.
‘What?! Who’s this?’ I said, as I opened the front door.
It was my mother. Still with her one eye. It felt as if the whole sky was falling down on me. My little daughter took one look at my mother and ran away crying. She was scared of my mom’s eye.
I turned to my mom and asked her, ‘Who are you? I don’t know you!!!’
I really wished that was true.
‘How dare you come to my house and scare my daughter?’ I screamed at her, ‘Get out of here now!’
My mother quietly answered, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I must have the wrong address.’
She turned and walked away. I watched as she slowly made her way down the street and disappeared around the corner.
Thank goodness, I said to myself. She didn’t recognize me. I was quite relieved. I told myself that I wasn’t going to care or think about this for the rest of my life.
One day, many years later, I received a letter in the mail. It was informing me that my class was having a school reunion. I wanted to see all my old friends from school so I decided to attend. After the reunion finished, I decided to pay a visit to the house where I had grown up, just out of curiosity.
When I got there, the house was empty and falling to ruin. The neighbors said that my mother had died a few years before. I did not shed a single tear.
Then, they handed me a sealed envelope. They said that my mother had wanted me to have it. I opened it and read the note inside.
‘My son, I think my life has been long enough now. I won’t try to visit you in Seoul anymore, but would it be too much to ask if I wanted you to come visit me once in a while? I was so glad to see your face once again. I miss you so much. You mean the world to me. I have always been so proud of you, my son.
I am sorry that I only have one eye, and that I was such an embarrassment to you all your life. You see, when you were very little, you got into an accident and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn’t stand to watch you grow up with only one eye, so I gave you mine. I never regretted my decision. How could I? When you love someone, their happiness is far more important than your own…’
There was more in the letter, but I couldn’t continue reading. The slip of paper fell from my shaking hands and I collapsed to my knees, sobbing like a little boy.”
Now I do not know whether or not the tale of the one-eyed mother and the thankless son is Gospel truth. And it really does not matter as far as this Christ follower is concerned.
Because I view this story as a modern day parable, much like such latter day parables as The Prodigal Son and The Good Samaritan, which the Lord Jesus used to impart spiritual lessons.
The story of the one-eyed mother and thankless son reinforces God’s commandment that we honor our mothers. And there is no better way to do so is to not only tell them we love them, but to show them.