|Beigler House, Mother of two governors at the same time|
In many ways it made perfect sense...to wonder about the prodigal mother. We hear about the prodigal father, how he let the son go, and then waited, watching the horizon for the first sight of the son. His skirts raised, ready to run. But what of the prodigal mother? What may have happened then?
Prodigal mother dusted in the corner of the library. Her youngest son pounced on the father, sitting with his holy scriptures, demanding his inheritance. A defiance at his boldness rose in her. Her man will put that young boy in his place. Isn't that what a father should do?
No, the father quietly swallowed the insult to them. An insult screaming Father should be dead and Mother's home isn't good enough for the son. She lifted her shoulders. But Father slowly counted out the money. What no pleading to keep the boy here?
Immediately, the young man left, obviously prepared for this moment. She speculated he stole a loaf of bread or two from her kitchen. She leaned out the window, as he jaunted out of sight.
She kneaded bread every day. She kept her household with thin and tight lips. The words that did emerge from those lips reeked of resentment. The father let the boy go. She poisoned the older son. He ate her heart ache, wondering, too, at his father's judgment.
Father watched every day, his heart reaching for his son. Mother ached, but wondered at the son's self-imposed exile. Why didn't Father keep the boy from leaving? He could have not given him the money. He could have said, “No.” She would have, but she had no power.
Yet, her attitude wielded power over the older son. Her shoulders hunched. She offered no words to her spouse. Anger built as she chewed the memory of the day the boy told them to drop dead.
The shadows grew long each day in that kitchen. Meals prepared, but no love in the serving. Mother resented every day her man's decision. The plate clunked on the table without a word from her lips. The older boy absorbed her actions.
Months go by with a bitter root sprouting all that nasty fruit, growing in her heart. The harvest sprung out her mouth. She spoke to her husband hardly any words, the older son received her gall as a new food. He fed on enmity as he worked hard, conceiving the thought he is omitted. The father shook his head as they could not understand his love.
Father sat every night on the porch, watching that horizon. He slowly gathered his robe around his knees, but the nights pass with no reason to run. Mother watched with contempt. How can he want that boy back when he allowed him to go in the first place? She wagged her head, retiring to the guest room. The oldest boy missed nothing. His heart filled with dissatisfaction at his father's patience.
A day like any other dawned. Father glanced to the horizon. The young man ate his breakfast from the silent mother. He prepared to go out to the field to work as he did every day. Father slipped into his study. She cleaned the kitchen and kneaded the bread.
“Don't forget the slop to fatten the calf,” she reminded her boy. He is a good boy, following orders. He'd never say, “Drop dead.” like his brother did.
Mother continued to look over the window ledge. A mixture of feelings flooded her that day. The baby disrespected them. She sees those round eyes as a toddler stealing a cookie, or that curly hair rushing by the window searching the skies, thinking he could fly like the birds. A restless soul, always wanting more than life in their home offered. A tear fell into the dish water from a sudden crack in her heart. Could he have been tied here to her apron strings? He never hid behind her. He boldly strutted about chattering about the outside world. He possessed a wandering spirit. And she discovered she loved him for who he was, finally. Was it too late? It had been so long. Was he dead? The boy who left without good-bye or even a turn of his head to glance back?
But she still couldn't bring herself to tell the man of the house she was sorry. He let him go with blessings. She closed the shutters and retired to the guest room that had become her hollow to sulk.
One more night of watching with no shadow on the horizon. No scurry of dust in the heat of the summer. No dragging of a son or word of a body. Silence met them night after night.
The evening sun filtered under her door. The man stretched on the porch, she heard. She prayed, unlike before, the words drifted past the ceiling. Her heart cracked a little more. A step, then many, as they grew into running. She peered out her window seeing her man's naked legs pumping the air. And far off, a slim, hunched over body staggered through town. All the towns people would see the spectacle. Pride pinned the woman in her shelter, built that wall around her heart. The slim crack cemented over as her husband again seemed a fool. This time in front of everyone. She couldn't risk embracing her boy or joining in the preparation of the feast. She couldn't forgive, and the older son joined her, banqueted on the poison she served every night. Neither could forgive, love nor open their arms.
It made perfect sense to wonder how we would be in this parable. Is there a reason the mother isn't mentioned in the Bible? Mothers can set the tone of a household. We have to decide: Can we forgive hurts or do we cement our hearts with bricks of resentment? We choose the food we serve at our tables.