Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Mother’s Day’

Things Loved

In Memoir, The Examined Life, Wisdom on May 14, 2013 at 6:00 am

My Maryland Woods

I spent some time over the weekend thinking about my best self as in, when have I realized my best self? I was in Maryland where I am selling some property, much of which consists of several acres of raw old woods, with trees bigger than I can get my arms around. I love these woods.

I do not use the word love lightly.

It was Mother’s Day evening and I was standing in a patch of woods where, four years ago, I scattered my mother’s ashes. The sun was setting. That’s when I started to reflect on those times when I experienced what I call my best self. My mother motivated me in a deep and profound way to seek such things of myself.

Also in these woods I roamed and meditated and worked with my beloved Maggie, a dog that meant more to me than I can talk about. Maggie died three years ago and walking the woods I could see her beautiful sleek athlete’s body fly like an arrow through the undergrowth. And over there, by the brook, is where I buried poor little Oscar, a rust-colored rescue cat that one night had a stroke. When I found him in the morning he did not resist my touch and his eyes no longer held life, though his heart was still beating.

These memories had the capacity to crush me as I walked my woods a last time. I was spared that, fortunately, though my heart was indeed heavy. Rather, I was grateful, a soaring and rare emotion. The animals of my life, my mother, the trees, the capacity for memory, these are things woven together by my aspiration for a better self, a best self. These are things loved and love will, by its very nature, guide a person to such heights.

I don’t think I gave her the credit she was due.

In Family, Life, Memoir on May 13, 2012 at 8:00 am

I’m traveling. This is a repost. I hope you have a nice mother’s day.


It’s mother’s day and I regret not being a better son. I wasn’t a bad son, but something held me back from being a really good, home-run good, son to my mom. I can’t explain it any other way, other than I was reserved and didn’t give her everything she probably wanted from her only child.

I’ve been thinking about this since I found a journal entry from thirty years ago, when my mother was a couple of years younger than I am now. I made a note then of a conversation we, my mother and I, had. In a rare moment of candor between mother and son she told me that, sadly, life had passed her by and that she regretted letting it happen. But she had no idea how she would have lived in any other manner or what to do about it going forward. I don’t recall the conversation, which bothers me. I just have the record of it, and that is part of the problem. Why don’t I remember such a confession?

I think I should remember a loved one being so upset and forthcoming. But I don’t. She didn’t do it often, open up like that–too much mid-western stoicism in her veins. I think she was asking something of me and I’m not sure what precisely. Nor did I try to find out. I suspect I was comforting, but I can’t be sure. I let her revelation slip away, receding behind us, and neither of us ever brought it up again. That was that.

I don’t think I gave her the credit she was due, all the attention she likely thirsted after. I don’t know exactly that to be the case, but I suspect it. I fear she wanted more and in telling me of her disappointments she thought I might somehow help. But I had a family to raise and distractions and it was my shortcoming to do nothing.

I fear wrestling with my shortcomings too late in life to do anything about them. But more, I fear missing another opportunity to be present when my presence is needed by someone I care about. It is said we cannot escape the sins of our fathers. Perhaps, conversely, we inherit the lessons of our mothers.