Have you had any embarrassing moments? Falling off a stage was an unforgettable experience for me. And the few hundred who watched it happen. And then there was that time on Mother’s Day. Our family had gathered in our living room after lunch to pay tribute to Mom.
I was 12. I know this because one of my brothers had just bought a 45 record. The singer was Melba Montgomery who recorded the song “No Charge” and watched it soar to number one by Mother’s Day. I stood to my feet nervously to read the song in my pre-adolescent soprano voice.
My little boy came into the kitchen this evenin,’
While I was fixin’ supper,
And he handed me a piece of paper he’d been writin’ on,
And after wipin’ my hands on my apron,
I read it—and this is what it said:
For mowin’ the yard – five dollars,
And for makin’ my own bed this week – one dollar,
And for goin’ to the store – fifty cents,
An’ playin’ with little sister, while you went to the store – twenty-five cents,
Takin’ out the trash – one dollar,
Gettin’ a good report card – five dollars,
And for rakin’ the yard – two dollars,
Total owed – fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents.
Well, I looked at him standin’ there expectantly,
And a thousand mem’ries flashed through my mind,
So I picked up the pen, turnin’ the paper over,
This is what I wrote:
For the nine months I carried you,
Growin’ inside me – NO CHARGE,
For the nights I’ve sat up with you,
Doctored you, prayed for you – NO CHARGE,
For the toys, food and clothes.
And for wiping your nose, there’s NO CHARGE,
When you add it all up.
The full cost of my love is NO CHARGE.
That’s as far as I got before my throat did funny things. My chin began to tremble. Water oozed out around my eyes. Tears spilled down my face. A blubbery sound formed deep in my throat. But by the time it came up for air my voice had changed. It had deepened. I was no longer a soprano. I was a tenor. I had become a man. And though humiliated beyond words, suddenly it didn’t matter. This was about my mama. I stepped toward her and told how that boy reads his mama’s words, gets big old tears in his eyes, looks up at her and says, “Mama, I sure do love you.” Then he takes the pen, and writes: “Paid in full.” When you add it all up, the cost of real love is no charge.”
Mom is gone now. But there’s rarely a day that goes by without me thanking God for her life. More than any other human she modeled for me the greatest love in history, with a price tag that reads, “No charge.”
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