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
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time for the person on the radio to man up about something that was said here yesterday. As you know I am an admirer of Margaret Wente. I like the way she tells a story. I like the way she pushes back on a lot of political correctness pap that affects the way we talk to each other and infects our respect for our fellow human beings. How can I continue to respect somebody if I withhold what I am really thinking about what they’re saying because if I tell them, it will be found to be deemed offensive, based on their gender, their sexual orientation, their heritage, their economic means, and it goes on and on ad nauseum.
Last week it was the anthem. And I heard people say the most incredibly phony things in order not to be impolite to the women who supported the idea of expunging the word sons. I heard people say things like, “I don’t know how to talk to my daughter about it”. Are you serious? You don’t know what to say to your daughter about it. Ask her to call me. Call Uncle Chuck. And I’ll tell her a story about real men, most of whom were under the age of 21. And I’ll tell ‘em how they fought and died in those stinking trenches on a far off battle field and they got shot up up so bad on some days by the German guns that the injured were envying the dead. But they prevailed. Even though they were badly outnumbered, through incredible courage, the capacity for sacrificing themselves for their brothers in arms under their thy sons command they liberated France and Belgium and Holland, they kept Britain free and kept the USA free and I make no apologies for my selfishness my niece, they kept our country free. Our lads did well under thy sons command.
Thursday night you will cheer men named Kane and Ladd and Pavelec, and they will make you feel connected to the community that you live in. They will make you proud and the reason we can be free to go to enjoy hockey and even criticized these great soldiers on skates, is because of the hundreds of thousand of men no older than these hockey player laying down their lives for us under thy sons command. The National Anthem is not about your niece, my daughter, my sister, my mother. It’s about them giving you the opportunity to breathe free air, to exercise your fine mind if you choose to in order to elevate all around. Their service to our cause gives us the opportunity to enjoy a Canadian life, a free life, a wonderful life. God bless the sons of Canada under thy sons command.
Now I don’t know whether Margaret Atwood or Gail Asper would ever repeat what I have just said to their daughters and nieces. But I can tell you this as a free man. I don’t give a damn. I don’t care how many awards Margaret Atwood has received for her books. I don’t care how many millions Gail Asper has inherited from my late friend Izzy. None of Atwood’s awards or Aspers millions, makes them more qualified to speak to the daughters of this land, any more than this son of two factory workers, two immigrants who could not speak a word of English in 1957. Two ordinary people who worked in the sweat shops on the assembly lines of St. Lawrence Boulevard in Montreal. My dad was working for 75 cents an hour. And my mother sewed neck ties for two cents per tie. And she never shied away from giving me her two cents about why in the darkest days of 1956, after Russian tanks had completed their slaughter of young men who were armed with nothing more than a desperate desire to be free, she demanded that my father put his young son in a back pack. “My baby is not growing up in this hell hole. My son will never achieve his God Given potential in a land that surrendered his grandfather because he wore a skull cap.”
Ladies and Gentlemen you couldn’t put me in the same room with Pauline Marois the premier of Quebec. She cannot handle the idea of someone working for the taxpayers wearing a skull cap, or a turban, or a hijab or a cross that is too prominent. People who wear turbans or skull caps or hijabs or prominent crosses can pay taxes. But they are ineligible to serve in government based on their faith? It wouldn’t be wise to put me in the same room with her. I don’t think I could call her Madame Premier. I would find another name that rhymes with witch. And I would want to call her minister, Bernard Drainville, Minister Son of the same word that rhymes with witch. My Canada includes Quebec. And as a free man I will not shrink from exercising my freedom to tell the premier that she is only the CEO of a Democracy because of what those lads, many of whom had French names did on French soil. They didn’t go there to occupy France. They went their to liberate France and many all too many in thy sons command, all too many died there, and so the only land they occupy are the graves which are marked by prominent crosses.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
God Bless John MaCrae, the great Army medic and his great Canadian horse Bonfire, and the great Susan Raby Dunne in Black Diamond, Alberta, who wrote the story of John Macrae and his horse and the enormous sacrifices of World War I under thy sons command. Is Susan Raby Dunne offended by the word ‘sons’? She is too grateful for those sons, too loving of those sons, too honored to have an intellectual and emotional and spiritual relationship with those sons, to be offended by the word which identifies them and gives them a permanent place in our Canadian hearts.
I came here today to man up and honour the men who are responsible for keeping this country free for my family and millions of others. Yesterday I read several paragraphs of a Margaret Wente column which tells us that today’s men may not be as fit as women to do today’s jobs as well as women. Today’s men apparently don’t have the self discipline that women have. That may be true for some men. But it was never true about my father, not even close. Not true about his brothers. Not true about millions of other Canadian many of whom are resting in peace in Flanders Fields.
A man in Alberta who worked with me during my halcyon years in front of this microphone instructed me to be a leader today and to lead with my values. He sent me the five traits of leadership laid out by Sun Tzu in the Art of War.
They are Intelligence, Trustworthiness, Humaneness, Courage, and Sternness. These are the traits that the real leaders of men have whether they are leading on the battlefield of war or peace. So today it’s time to dispense with all the reasons why some men aren’t competitive with some women in some fields. It’s time to tell the truth. Those men who respect their own intelligence and are willing to harness it, that those men who are trustworthy, humane and courageous and at time willing to be stern with people who want to trifle with our very public anthem or those who want to tell us not to be publicly faithful to their God. God bless those who served in thy sons command. If you’re wondering what to tell your daughter or grand daughter, tell ‘em what I just told them.
They won’t feel suppressed by the patriarchy. Nothing is more liberating to the enterprise we call humanity than the truth. A great man, a leader of men, once said the Truth will Set you Free. That’s no less relevant today than it was more than two thousand years. The vast eternal truths are timeless. They require no updates no politically correct paint jobs or snow jobs or the the word that rhymes with snow jobs.
Next time someone tells you that men are not as equipped as women to succeed in today’s Canada, just say Snow me or the word that rhymes with it.
The poet said Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
I’m Charles Adler