It is impossible to adequately thank our parents for life. If we are fortunate enough to count Mom or Dad as friends, all the better. Gratitude infuses “It’s all I have to bring today -” by Emily Dickinson.

It’s all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

My thanks are all I have, really. No amount of loyalty, good as that is; or, gifts, lavish though they may be, matter as much as the simple acknowledgment of appreciation.  “It’s all I have to bring today – / This, and my heart beside -”.

The poem sincerely, but playfully, dramatizes our humble state as recipients of the greatest gift.  On Mothers Day and Fathers Day we try to show our thanks with a card or gift of some sort.  Say, cake, flowers from a garden, or, any of a number of thank-you gifts, “This, and my heart, and all the fields – / And all the meadows wide -”.

The poem, like the “it” of our thankfulness, is our attempt to recognize our parents. Maybe, like the poet, we tuck the poem inside our gift. We try to explain the meaning behind our expressions of thoughtfulness.

My first-born and I did not have an easy go of it. I bumbled through, but our personalities just did not mesh. Only now that she is an accomplished adult does she easily and generously offer thank-yous. We both have learned to give each other plenty of acceptance. It’s not unusual for us to acknowledge our very deep bond, while knowing the platitudes and happy talk that is popular today just won’t do.  “Be sure you count – should I forget / Some one the sum could tell”.

Unfortunately, the chasms that I am fully responsible for causing between my son and I after the death of his other sister remain a source of injury. Over the years, he has given me windows into his love for me. But, private battles persist.  It is a bee-sting bee balm to know he has great capacity to rise above obstacles and to love deeply.

I, too, was well into middle age before I could step back enough to love and appreciate my parents for their individuality. I think one of the most treasured aspects of being allowed to outlive your parents is to gain perspective about their challenges and idiosyncrasies. “This, and my heart, and all the Bees / Which in the Clover dwell”.

Ponder A Poem A Day – Accept What Comes Your Way

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