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May 3, 2011 / sharoncopy

A mother’s longing….

  Once in awhile I get an opportunity to participate in a focus marketing group. It’s a great way to make money for giving one’s opinion, and I’ve enjoyed doing them and pocketing the cash. I’ve earned anywhere from $3 to $150 depending on the length of time that was required. I gave my opinion on cereal box designs, songs I prefer or hate on a radio station, mock trial results, and the taste of new Oreos. But I’ll never, ever forget the one I did for Hatfield meats, and they might remember me also.

 I was the only participant, and as usual, I was in a room with a facilitator, but made aware that I was being watched by others through a mirrored window. They showed me two or three ideas for commercials and then asked a lot of questions about what I liked and didn’t like, what I noticed and didn’t notice, etc. Then came the last potential commercial.

 It was all about Thanksgiving, and there was a large family preparing. Teens were setting the table and little ones were helping. There were aged grandparents and parents, and aunts and uncles, and everyone looked happy as they put a spread on the table which of course included sausages and other pork products and a big ham in the center. They had all just sat down at the table and were about to start eating.  I was thinking, aw, this is pretty nice – I wouldn’t mind watching this commercial a bunch of times because there were a lot of things to focus on and it was pleasant. Suddenly there was a knock at the door and the mother got up to go and answer it. To her total surprise, there stood her daughter in military uniform, home for Thanksgiving. They embraced and the mother’s face showed her tears.

   As it turns out, my eldest son David was away in the Navy in Guam, at the time and I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years. That scene undid me. I wept, and wept, and wept. And believe me, if putting a Hatfield ham on my table would have brought my son home, I’d have bought a pile of them right then and there! I can only imagine that the secret viewers were all giving each other high-fives on the other side of the window: “Yep, this one is a winner.”

  That’s a mother’s heart for you. We can get by without seeing our kids for awhile, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t miss their faces, their jokes, their stories, and their conversation pretty frequently. They lived with us for over 18 years, and even in the midst of enjoying the current freedom and quiet and lack of tension, there’s still a place that can’t be filled by anyone else, ever.

  David didn’t fully appreciate my lack of subtlety when I painted “Welcome home, David!” on a bedsheet and hung it on the front of our house when he finally returned. But I couldn’t do any less.

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