I had a rare opportunity tonight to go visit my mom with only three of my children and one grandchild as companions. My husband had taken the older boys camping and my teen was on retreat. My father was also out of town on business, so that gave my mother and I some bonding time while the kids watched movies and ate popcorn and pizza in the adjacent room. My mom surprised me with a gift that she had stored for over 20 years. It was a VHS movie with one-half of a handkerchief that had the words “Jill More Is Less Love Mom” embroidered on it. I didn’t recall ever seeing the movie. Mom told me that she didn’t remember it much, but I had gone with her and Dad to see it at the theatre and we both cried so much that my father tore his handkerchief in half to give to us.
So we popped the movie in and watched intently, each of us expecting some great epiphany or deep meaning to come flooding back to us. In the end the movie was a disappointment and my mom put it into her trashcan. It wasn’t a bad movie, it just had a frustrating ending that didn’t jive with either of us on moral grounds. Mom apologized to me and her demeanor seemed to express disappointment that it didn’t mean more. But, the more I think about it, the more the gift means to me.
First of all, it means that my mother and I shared a common bonding and experience watching that movie together over twenty years ago—a moment that meant a great deal to her to have purchased the movie, embroidered the hankie and waited all this time before giving it to me. It says that I am special to her: now, then and always. That is a powerful message for any daughter.
As I contemplate the words “less is more” I think of how those words played out in the movie. A young woman leaves her job to care for her dying mother. She has spent her life trying to imitate her father and rebel against all that is her mother: the domesticity, the servitude, the humility. In the end she sees each of her parents for who they are and accepts them. Her father is not the perfect man that she had idolized him to be; and her mother is so much more exceptional because of her humbleness. So, I think of the woman I was twenty-some years ago and compare her to the woman I am today. I can very much identify with the character in the movie. I, too, tried to rebel against becoming my mother. Call it nature or nurture or genetics, but I am very much like my mother today and I thank God for it. I can’t help but think it was my mother’s intuition or a signal grace that prompted her to buy that movie and hold it all these years. “Less is more” could simply mean be happy with what you have in front of you, with who God made you to be. Don’t try to be something more than who you are because you are the perfect you. A message she wanted to tell me then, but that I had to learn on my own.
And then I have the handkerchief torn into two pieces. Dad loves us both and this hankie reminds me of that love. His devoted love to my mother for over 50 years of marriage and his devoted love to his children and grand children can never be called into question. My dad always kissed me on the cheek when he left for trips and he wasn’t shy about saying “I love you” either. I have never doubted either of my parents’ love for me or their pride in the woman I am today. That is a gift I will always treasure, and one I will be sure to pass on to my own children.
Thanks, Mom for the movie. Thanks, Dad for the hankie. You were right, less IS more.