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“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.” – Honore de Balzac

Kids do stupid things. They’re busy living each moment, never thinking about the future or the consequences of their actions, and how those consequences can last a lifetime.

Fortunately for me, a mother’s love overlooks a lot of stupid.

We were on our way home from a day of fishing. Mom and dad were up front with our dog. I was in the back, alone.

Cars were big in 1952, but not big on safety. Seat belts were unheard of until much later in the decade. Unrestrained, I was everywhere in our non air-conditioned post-war Chrysler. My head was out one window, then the other, just trying to keep cool on that Arkansas summer afternoon.

Our car had a radio, but its entertainment wasn’t much, what with the crackly sound coming from a single speaker in the dash.

I soon started playing with the stuff I had bought from the neighborhood magic shop the week before with the money from my first job.

I had a trick to make coins disappear, a box of cigarette loads that exploded in an unsuspecting smoker’s face when they lit up, and my favorite, a can labeled Mixed Nuts. It was a stupid trick, the victim would lean in to smell the nuts before opening the lid. Then, KA BOW, a long metal spring, covered in snaky looking greenish brown cloth, would fly out to scare my unsuspecting friend.

It’s a long-time classic practical joke. Harmless fun? Not in my case.

Just harmless fun, right?

Soon I was doing it backwards, pushing the spring in and letting the can fly as I relaxed my grip. The can bounced everywhere, off windows, into the roof, then the door, before settling to rest.

After awhile, my parents ran out of patience with me. My mother twisted around, leaning over her seat to grab my toy. Her timing was perfect – or imperfect. Just as she opened her mouth to yell, my flying mixed nuts can crashed into her front teeth.

Both teeth were broken off at her gum line.

I don’t remember much about the rest of the drive home. I only know I didn’t say anything.

There were many dental visits in the following months, each searching for a fix. But in the 50’s there weren’t any cosmetic dentists offering implants, at least not in Little Rock, Arkansas. The final solution was to pull the roots and make a partial. That meant fake front teeth.

The dentist did an okay job on the color and shape, but still, her teeth came out to soak in a glass by her bed – every night for the next 50 years.

Mom could have been mad, but instead she chose to forgive, maybe even forget, how she lost her teeth.

The teeth were fake but her smile was always pure love.

More importantly, she always let me know how much she loved me, even with the damage I had caused to her mouth. She knew how accidents could happen, but that it was her reaction to any event that mattered most.

Could you be as loving? What stories do you have of accidents that left scars, visible or hidden, where everything was forgiven, or maybe not?

How do you deal with invisible wounds, those scars that are never seen? Could we all be like my mother and learn to forgive, and to love? What stories do you have?

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran

Epilogue

Take a moment with this Jim Brickman video to feel how a mother’s love always lifts up.