A day for laughing

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dear reader In honor of our mothers, today's Opinion page is devoted to maternal optimism and good humor. If you can, love your mother and laugh with her. The sound of her laugh will be one of the memories you treasure most when the day comes that you can no longer enjoy a moment of humor together.

Mothers laugh for many reasons. Of course they enjoy a good joke. And they laugh with delight when their children and their grandchildren do all those special things they do. And they laugh when they are surprised, because laughter gives them a moment to collect themselves. Sometimes mothers laugh for no apparent reason at all. You mothers know what I'm talking about, and I leave it up to you to decide if you want to explain yourselves.

One mother that we have come to know this past week is a laughing mother today, this special day for mothers. She is the mother of Joshua Childers of Arcadia, Mo. The 3-year-old wandered away from his rural home and spent two nights alone in rugged woods before he was found by a volunteer searcher.

Losing a child is an experience no parent, mother or father, should ever have to experience. But most parents have had those few moments of dread when they suddenly become aware they don't know where there child is.

It happened to me once at a big-city department store when our older son was a toddler. Turns out he was playing hide-and-seek under racks of clothes and had no sense of my panic. Not knowing his whereabouts was the longest 60 seconds of my life.

Imagine, then, the agony of those first 45 minutes when Joshua's parents couldn't locate their son and frantically searched for him in and around their home. Surely they kept thinking that he was playing nearby totally unaware of his parents' worst fears.

Then came the search.

I have tromped many times over those Ozark hills where Joshua was believed to be lost. Not only is it tough going, but it's also easy to miss whatever you're looking for: morels, turkeys, deer, dogwood trees, springs, caves. It is possible to walk right over or past the very thing you seek without seeing it. A sleeping 3-year-old would be easy to miss.

Throughout the search, Joshua's family maintained the hope, growing dimmer by the hour, that he would be found.

Joshua's family has so much to be thankful for: the moderate weather, the unstinting searchers, the sheriff who said "Keep looking" even when it seemed to be futile.

Most of all, this morning she has Joshua to cuddle and kiss.

This is a day for laughing.


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