Charles Adler – The Power of a Mother’s Love
So as I was listening to the great writer Kevin Cullen telling us about Bill Wright and his mother Marge, I heard him talk about this sickly child who needed surgery after surgery just to stay alive. But no matter how tough things got for little Bill, he always knew that when he woke up after a surgery, the first thing he would see when those groggy eyes opened up, was Mom.
Those words offered by Kevin Cullen took us deep into a story not of a young boy having a chance of some kind of life through the miracles of modern medicine in Boston, although that would be an interesting story for many, but the story that never left my mind’s eye as Kevin told it wasn’t about modern medicine, cutting edge technology, people being given a second and third and thirty-third chance at surviving body blows that nobody could have even imagined surviving a generation ago. Now I am not saying that’s a bad story. But that’s not why Kevin Cullen the great story teller from Boston was making my heart stop, and my eye wells moist. It wasn’t about the new technology for me. It was about something ancient and timeless and impossible to measure on any kind of scientific level. It was about the love of a mother. There is no piece of medical technology invented by the greatest minds at MIT, or U of T, or UBC or CIT or Stanford or anywhere else that can sustain a boy and offer him the chance to be a man, a contented man, a fulfilled man, a good man, like the love of a mother.
Marge Wright was the right mother at the right time for a boy who needed more than great doctoring. He needed devoted loving mothering. He needed and always received the love of Marge. And so when the great story teller told us that Marge would spend many of her days on this earth, “taking the bus from her home in Malden to the old Everett station. She’d take the Orange Line train to Haymarket, then the Green Line to trolley to Longwood. Then she would sit all day next to her son’s bed. She never complained.” And neither did her boy. And although the boy became a man in those hospital rooms, the drill did not change. But the love Mother Marge offered her son did change. The more he needed her, the deeper her devotion became. That’s what happens when mothers love their sons. When the times get tougher, a mother’s love gets stronger.
Doctor’s told Marge that her boy wasn’t well enough for physical exertion. But she knew that the little boy like every little boy growing up in Boston in the 70’s loved Bobby Orr, and so she helped to lace up his skates and put a stick in his gentle hands. Bill Wright was never going to be a big league athlete. He didn’t have the physical ability. But his mother Marge was a big league mom with a big league heart and a big league faith in her God and her strength to give Bill all the strength it takes to put the puck into the net we call a life, a real life. Life for a physically fragile boy doesn’t have to be about hoisting the Stanley Cup and skating around the Garden to the cheers of tens of thousands and a parade down Boylston Avenue. Bill Wright never lifted the Stanley Cup like his hero Bobby Orr. But Bill’s mother Marge made her son feel like a champion every day.
No little boy, no little man, no man had a more loyal and loving mother than Marge. And then one day Marge took ill, very ill, and as Kevin tells the story, a role reversal was to take place and it was Bill’s turn. And you know that Bill would never leave his mother’s bedside. Kevin said “Even as her body declined, Marge Wright’s mind remained sharp, and she smiled whenever she saw her Bill come through the door.” But as the days grew shorter toward the end of this past summer, doctors gave Bill yet another diagnosis, of yet another attack on Bill’s weary bones. This physiological infirmity was one that even the best technology on earth delivered by the best practitioners in the profession, and a mother’s endless love, could do very little to stop.
Our friend Kevin told us, Mother Marge “had served in the Marines and was as tough as they come. She lived through a flu last year that wiped out many of her friends at the nursing home. But losing her son was another matter.” In the waning days of September of this year, Bill in his final stages of cancer, was able to see Marge in the nursing home one final time and as he took her hand he said, “Okay mother, take care. I’ll be waiting for you on the other side.” Sometimes a soldier of life knows when he’s doing his final tour of duty.
As Kevin tells it, when Bill’s brother and sisters were “keeping vigil over their brother at the hospice, they got a call.” The nurse in Mother Marge’s room told them Marge was fading fast. His sisters went from Bill’s bed in the hospice to Mother Marge’s in the nursing home. Bill wasn’t strong enough to make it with them. Bill passed away first, with his brother by his side. Marge passed away in the loving arms of her daughters, four hours later.
There are many lessons in the story that Kevin Cullen shared with his readers and our listeners. But the lesson I will never forget is this one. Never underestimate the power of love, the constant and consistent and relentless power of a mother’s love to sustain life. She gave him life, and then gave him a life.
Today many of us choose to believe that Bill and Marge are on the other side as close as a mother has been to her son. And I choose to believe that Kevin Cullen was put on this earth to bind us to what matters most. God bless you Kevin for telling us the story and God bless Marge Wright for giving us Bill Wright and for taking him to school, for taking him to the hospital, for taking him to the hockey rink, and finally, for taking him home. …I’m Charles Adler