Mother created a world of things that we knew nothing of while she was alive. We have found all sorts of treasures among her papers - artwork, letters, essays, articles. Through them she continues a dialog with us, and with the world.

I discovered this midnight meditation about the H-Bomb and her children about three years ago. She would have written it in 1956 when she was working hard for Adlai Stevenson in the Presidential race against Dwight Eisenhower.

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2000 Suzanna O'Donnell

 

A TRUE STORY

       Once a housewife with four children decided that Hydrogen Bombs were not a political issue at all, but simply a clear choice between Good and Evil. She thought that if a man was trying to make the world a safer place for every woman's child by stopping tests on these dangerous bombs, that man would make a very splendid President, and deserved her vote. But perhaps just voting was not enough. Even a housewife might do a little more. So she would write and call and appeal to other women, her friends and their friends, and as many mothers as could be reached, and try to make the ones who had been too busy to think about it realize how the "abomination of desolation" Jesus foretold In the Twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew's gospel might happen in our own country. Perhaps she could make them hear what Our Lord's terrible words describing the waste land made her hear: The lost children crying in the ruins of the world.

       "A vote is not just politics and slogans", wrote the woman tn her friends. "When matters of Life and Death and Truth and Untruth are at stake, a vote could be a sort of prayer..."

       The woman wrote till her eyes ached and her head ached and the kitchen table was covered with paper like fallen leaves. Suddenly she was so tired she started to cry and thought; "'What can I do - all by myself? What's the use? Who will hear me?"

       And just then the children came romping in from school with great squeals and laughter and tossed all the Halloween things they had made at school that morning onto the littered table, and shouted "Look Mother, look at mine!" All together, very noisily. They were quite deafening and now the table was really a mess. There were hats, witches, broken cookies, candy wrappers and sacks for trick or treat decorated in crayon with fearsome apparitions, bats, taily dragons and horny toads.

       The mother was too distraught by the interruption to admire the trinkets, and sharply sent her children outdoors to play. In a weary mood she began to fix supper. She felt futile and inadequate and unimportant. Who was she anyway? What was she trying to do? Perhaps she should mind her own business. Perhaps we all should. She stared stupidly at the table that must be cleared for supper and at the children's Halloween nonsense strewn all over her muddled and messy attempts to change the world.

       Suddenly the picture cleared. She had the feeling that dawn brings after a long night's watching, that familiar music brings to a weary heart, a golden light around the edges of the mind. The paper goblins and carefully colored pumpkins, became so sharply etched, and so clearly alive that they were the only really important things on the table. They had been made by her children's hands, and the absurd, fragile toys had suddenly become symbols of immeasurably big and precious things. They spoke for the joy and trust and innocence of all children since time began. They shamed the tarnished adult world, those paper witches, those scrawly dragons and spooks. "The chalk fell off the ghosts," the Middle Boy had said, with starry eyes, "so Teacher let us use paint"..... Paint-happy eyes.... "What I'm trying to do isn't useless," said the mother firmly. "Someone will hear, someone will surely understand".

       And so she wrote this story in the middle of the night, while the children slept too soundly after their Halloween party to interrupt her.

 

2000 Estate of Gwynneth Mary Woodhouse Ware