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    THOMAS' MOTHER

    ---A story about mothers

    Lately, I have been reading this book about mothers. I know I'm one, but I find I don't always know how to be one -- not the fairy type of mother, but the kind God wants to be. I am often short-fused with the children. I don't know exactly how many other mothers get this way, but the few that I've shared this with ended up exchanging high-fives with me.

    This one I'm reading included a story about Thomas, an eight-year-old boy many years ago. Thomas, rather sickly and partially deaf, lagged far behind his peers in academics. Teachers tended to be easily exasperated with him because he was slow to pick up. His classmates were quick to show him this same exasperation. It was common for them to talk down to him or make fun of his mistakes. This was an unkind world. But in that world, Thomas had a mother. A mother he came home to after each and every 'doggone' day in school. A mother who was happy to have him. A mother who would sit with him in the kitchen counter and listen to how badly his day had unfold.

    I put down the book momentarily and asked God to make me like that. A mother can do more than just read between the lines. There are mothers who can read sadness and loneliness in their children's faces. When something is wrong, she'll know by the expression in their eyes, or by the way the child walks, or by the way his head hangs down.

    One day, Thomas came home with a letter from the headmaster of the school. Thomas was being expelled because his brain was addled.

    His mother didn't fuss much about the letter. She hugged Thomas saying everything would be okay. She knew he was slower than most others, but she believed Thomas could learn if lessons were thought to him more slowly. She worked on teaching him herself at home. It began to work. He began to pick up speed...Pretty soon...He started to device new things, inventing this and that --- a lot of them silly in the beginning.

    When Thomas finally died, a whole nation ---the people of the United States ---honored him by switching off the lights throughout the entire America for one minute. This is the Thomas whose headmaster expelled him from school because his brain worked slower; the one who lived with seeing classmates nudge each other and laughed at him. This Thomas was Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of the light bulb and phonograph. And that headmaster and the jeering classmates, where were they when America turned its lights off?

    I put the book down a second. My heart was clapping for Thomas. And also for his mom. If she were here, I'd salute her. May God make me just a little more like her.

    Mrs. Edison, wherever you are, thank you.