As I’ve mentioned before, my maternal grandmother, Grandma Neal, had an elephantine memory when it came to songs and poetry. It was not uncommon for her to interject some appropriate snippet of verse into a conversation to make a point.

On Mother’s Day, Grandma Neal enjoyed reciting the lyrics to the song M-O-T-H-E-R. Released in 1915, M-O-T-H-E-R (A Word That Means The World To Me) was a sentimental tribute that was the work of Theodore Morse, who wrote the music, and Howard Johnson, who penned the lyrics. Grandma Neal knew the song by heart. She liked the spelling chorus part the best and recited it with special emphasis. The lyrics are as follows:

I’ve been around the world, you bet,
But never went to school,
Hard knocks are all I seem to get,
Perhaps I’ve been a fool;
But still, some educated folks, supposed to be so swell,
Would fail, if they were called upon a simple word to spell.
Now if you’d like to put me to a test,
There’s one dear name that I can spell the best:

“M” is for the million things she gave me,
“O” means only that she’s growing old,
“T” is for the tears she shed to save me,
“H” is for her heart of purest gold;
“E” is for her eyes, with lovelight shining,
“R” means right, and right she’ll always be,
Put them all together, they spell “MOTHER,”
A word that means the world to me.

When I was but a baby, long before I learned to walk,
While lying in my cradle, I would try my best to talk;
It wasn’t long, before I spoke, and all the neighbors heard,
My folks were very proud of me for “Mother” was the word.
Although I’ll never lay a claim to fame,
I’m satisfied that I can spell this name:

“M” is for the mercy she possesses,
“O” means that I owe her all I own,
“T” is for her tender sweet caresses,
“H” is for her hands that made a home;
“E” means ev’rything she’s done to help me,
“R” means real and regular, you see,
Put them all together, they spell “MOTHER,”
A word that means the world to me.

Happy Mother’s Day to Grandma Neal, Grandma Webner, my mother, my lovely wife, my sisters, and all the mothers out there, old and new!