Berger’s Burg: Columnist’s mother a breed that doesn’t exist anymore

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Who ran to help me when I fell,/And would some pretty story tell,/Or kiss the place to make it well? My mother. — Jane Taylor

Mother’s Day falls May 9 and it reminds me of the years I have spent without my mother. When former President Andrew Jackson’s mother died, he wrote, “There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness .… The memory of my mother and her teachings were, after all, the only capital I had to start life with, and on that capital I have made my way.” The same could be said of Mama.

The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom. — Henry Ward Beecher

Mothers today are regarded as more biological beings than builders or sustainers of homes. My mother, although never commercially employed, worked at a more enriching, lifetime profession: raising her eight children. She was also a precinct representative for the Democratic Party in Manhattan and her eulogy mainly reflected that role. But why wasn’t the making of a home for her eight children more highly regarded?

A rich child often sits in a poor mother’s lap. — Danish proverb

Mama made our home and expressed love that shaped her family. She was there when we, in our early years, were stricken with illnesses. She was there, during our teenage and adult years, when vicissitudes of life overtook us — especially me. And she was there figuring out how to cook, feed and clothe us on Dad’s insufficient paychecks. He worked three jobs to sustain us. But Mom always had a dime for me to buy my weekly comic book.

She was also there to keep the home fires burning while Jack, her eldest child, was called away during World War II and I (No. 7) left for military service several years later. Like many families, she gave Jack and me something to look forward to when we returned.

Who takes the child by the hand takes the mother by the heart. — German proverb

Before career women hogged the spotlight and eclipsed homemakers, radical feminism diminished men and reduced women to seek equality (not to be confused with equal pay, treatment and justice), daycare centers and two-income families (some of necessity, of course, but others solely to maintain the pace of consumption), no-fault divorce, women’s magazine’s preoccupation with female orgasms and affairs as the supposed primary concerns of all women — before all these there was a type of woman known as a lady. My mother was a lady.

Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of little children. — William Makepeace Thackeray

Many people called Mom stately. They meant she had dignity, acquired through a good, although shortened, upbringing modeled by her parents and enhanced by a philosophy and faith she voluntarily practiced through much of her adult life. This despite the fact that she left her parents for America at 14. Her parents and entire European family were killed during the Holocaust.

God could not be everywhere and therefore He made mothers. — Jewish proverb

There were parental rules of conduct back then. It was widely believed they should be followed to produce the happiest possible life. Though some women did not follow them, or some men either, the culture mostly affirmed them. Like democracy, they were considered better than anything else that had been tried. Such love and rules were passed on to me by a woman who was married to one man for 42 years until his death.

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. — Spanish proverb

Mom was a great encourager. She read all my school compositions, the military newsletters I sent home and other writings and pronounced them all “wonderful.” She would not have been a good editor.

Every beetle is a gazelle in the eyes of its mother. — Moroccan proverb

I am blessed to have no regrets about our relationship. I told her in word and deed how much I loved her and what she meant to me. She taught me something about love by her abundant showering of it on each and every member of her family.

What a mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin. — H.W. Beecher

No life could be more appreciated. No life has shaped mine more than hers. Thank you, Bella Zeesel Berger, for giving me the comfort and joy for which all of us yearn.

There is no influence so powerful as that of the mother. — Sarah Josepha Hale

So to all mothers everywhere a happy Mother’s Day — and Mom, “I remember Mama.”

Contact Alex Berger at

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