“Dear Mom” Box

Here’s a story for those who need a last minute Mother’s Day gift tip.

“Hi, I’m Ken and I’m a Gift-Procrastinist.”

“Hi Ken. Please share with the group.” Larry, the support group leader, requested.

“Well… “ Ken’s feet tapped the floor and his head lowered. “It wasn’t always like this. I used to have a lot more time to create gifts for my family. They were well planned and amazing.  But somewhere around the time I started driving, life just got – too fast. Planning and creating gifts got too hard. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I… I…”

“Go ahead Ken. You can tell us. It’s safe here.” Larry prodded.

“Okay. Here it goes. I was 18. It was Christmas Eve and I had nothing. So I went to the only place open at 5 p.m., the gas station. And I bought a dog ornament.”

“No, you didn’t!” Members of the group exclaimed.

“Yes… I did and I’m a humiliation to all gift-givers now.” Ken’s head rose, revealing a face so moist that it reflected room light.

“This condition worsened over the years and to compound the problem… Irony brought me the Gift Gauntlet. I have 3 kids’ birthdays, my wife’s birthday, Christmas, V-Day, and our Anniversary over a 90-day period! And after I barely survive that, Mother’s Day seems to come back two months later in May.” Ken paused, his knuckles reddened. “May! Curse you Hallmark! It’s Thursday and I’ve got JACK!”

“We understand Ken. Keep going. Your healing is almost complete.”

Ken perked up. “There were a few bright spots over my adult years where my creative genius took control. I mean, ask my wife about the engagement ring and the ceremony that took me 3 months to plan. Ask my mom about the ‘Dear Mom’ Box.”

Jimmy cut in. “Ken, I can’t take it. I’m a Gift-Procrastinist too. I didn’t do ANYTHING for Mother’s Day either. Can you please tell us about the ‘Dear Mom’ Box?”

Each member of the group leaned forward in their chairs and nodded.

“I was a 24-year-old Big Shot engineer with General Electric. My first real job after Penn State. I finally junked my duct-taped Ford Tempo for the car of my dreams – a brand new 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Sport XS. It was breathtaking, fully loaded with only a $486 monthly payment. Yup, I was big-time as a big spender. In fact, only a few months prior I made the Big Commitment for Christmas to my then-girlfriend Teresa. She was expecting a ring. Her family was expecting me to give her a ring. I, in all my wisdom, gave Teresa a… a cell phone. It was like a hundred bucks and in  2001, these were our first cell phones ever. I was giving her 100% access to me wherever I went. What commitment could be bigger than that? Well, she thought differently and so did her parents.”

The group exhaled in unison.

Ken continued. “Mother’s Day was a month away and I wanted to make a splash. I paced the mall for hours. I was willing to charge anything to my impressive $5,000 line of credit. However, store after store revealed nothing meaningful. I got discouraged. What could I do? My Mom was 16 when she had me. She sacrificed so much to raise me as a single mom. She made the real Big Commitment. Then it hit me.

The gifts mom likes best are the ones you spend time on, not money.

 A flash of brilliance struck and the word BOX formed in my mind. But not just any box. A chest with a lock on the front. It would be covered in fabric and engraved, maybe embroidered with a simple message…

Dear Mom,

I wanted to give you this box to store your greatest memories from your children and future grandchildren. Over the years, I have created tons of pictures and crafts for you. And my siblings still do. Now you can put it all in one place. Whenever you want to go down memory lane, just go open your box. It’s like a giant scrapbook.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Love Kenny

With victory so close, I switched gears and went to all the box stores and craft stores.  I found it and went to work. Thankfully, my cell phone toting girlfriend pulled off the Martha Stewart and embroidered on the top of the box.” Ken exhaled. “I gotta say. It was a smash hit with my mom. I’m not 24 anymore. My siblings aren’t 5, 7, 9, and 11 anymore. But I can tell you this… My prediction came true. That box is full of memories from my mom’s 5 kids and 4 grandkids and she still loves going to the ‘Dear Mom’ Box.”

Dear Mom Box"Dear Mom" Box

Larry stood, wiped away his tears, followed by Jimmy and every other emotional member of the group.

“What are you going to give this year?” Jimmy asked.

“Well, I’ve written letters to my wife and mom. Could I read them to you?”

“Absolutely.” Larry chimed, speaking on behalf of everyone.

“Here it goes…” Ken wiped his face with his sleeve, cleared his throat, and began reading.

Dear Mom,

You have always encouraged me, built me up, told me that I could accomplish anything. You would always tell me at bedtime, “You won’t know how much I love you until you have a son of your own.” You sacrificed so much of your teens and 20’s to raise me. I can’t imagine how hard it was for you. You put me above all else and never made me feel anything but loved. I never knew the struggles you dealt with, the pain of a broken marriage to my dad, the money problems, the struggle to graduate high school and college. These early years were magical for me. I loved spending time with you. We were best friends.

You endured and eventually found your true love in Paul. At 10-years-old, I remember how happy you were in a wedding dress while I wore that despicable pink shirt you made me wear. Just kidding, sort of. The next 8 years were just as amazing because you gave me what I always wanted – siblings. Being an only child was fine. I never knew any better and it allowed us to have so much time together. But having 4 siblings in my teens was awesome. I loved being the babysitter all of those summer days when you went to work. I loved coming home from school with a full house of kids. Those years were so memorable.

I know our relationship has changed over time. We’re still close, but you told me something a few weeks ago that shocked me. After our first 3 hour phone call in years, I said. “Mom, I feel so connected to you. I’m glad we did this.”

You replied. “This is the first time you opened up to me.”

I paused thoughtfully. “Seriously? What about when I was a kid?”

“Nope. You always held things in.”

Mom, I had no idea that I was so stinkin’ bottled up. I’m sorry that I robbed you of many more great conversations as a boy and young man. I didn’t realize I was doing it. But I won’t anymore. Life is too short. The irony is that my son does the same to his mother. In fact, do you know what I tell him at bedtime? I say this…

“You won’t know how much I love you until you have kids of your own.”

Now check out the bottom of this post and read the comments from your other kids including your daughter-in-law. As your oldest, I have once again assembled the memories and placed them RIGHT HERE in this new-and-improved Virtual “Dear Mom” Box.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Your ever-loving son, Kenny

Dear Teresa,

First of all, thank you for allowing me to write my Mom’s letter first. You are no less important. You’re my wife, my gift, my best friend, my love. You gave me 4 incredible kids. And that’s what this letter is about. It’s not a love letter; It’s a gratitude letter.

Right now, I’m remembering our first walk on the beach and what we talked about. You were 17 and I was 21. We talked about our past pains and future desires. As I picture what we looked like, how young we were, how simple life really was then, I’m struck with this thought. “Could I have imagined then, that in 18 years, we’d be married with 4 kids?” I know it’s a silly thought, but my brain works like that. I’m a time-traveler. I go back to the past and I envision the future, all the time. And you don’t judge me. You encourage me and support the crazy ideas that I seem to come up with every day.

Thank you for that walk on the beach. Thank you for saying yes and choosing to spend the rest of your life with me. Thank you for giving me those 4 incredible kids. Thank you for supporting my dreams and allowing me to time-travel. Lastly, thank you for constantly shifting, adjusting, and improving to become such an outstanding mother.

Our kids have it good. Their futures are bright.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Your ever-loving husband, Ken

About the Author Ken Carfagno

Along his journey from artist to engineer to entrepreneur, Ken Carfagno became a dad. And like many new dads, his kids inspired a long-forgotten gift. Ken could make up stories and draw his kids into them. This sparked a dream that lead to Dadnamics, the infusion of creativity, adventure, and silliness into dad time. And it lead to the Arctic Land experience.

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  • Marissa Tibbitts

    My mama is the strongest, most courageous woman I know. ❤️ Big brother, you’ve had the pleasure of knowing mom for much longer than I have, but I am not suprised that even my depiction of mom matches yours to a tee. She is still the same remarkable woman that she was 39 years ago. Even in the midst of illness, she continues to serve her children in all of the ways God has called her to. The five of us siblings are incredibly blessed to have a mama so compassionate, loving, intelligent, affectionate, kind-hearted, definitely silly, and so, so beautiful. Mama’s heart is big. Mama’s heart is gold. Mama’s heart is pure.

  • Jenna

    Mom has put her children above all and has made so many sacrifices to ensure our happiness. Although I feel blessed to have her as a mother, I have also felt somewhat spoiled and guilty to have such a loving, caring mother while other people do not. Thankfully, as a teacher, mom has shared her love and compassion, touching so
    many lives outside of our family. She has given hope and chance when no one else would. She has reached the unreachable, touched the untouchable, and helped the seemingly helpless! She has changed the outcome of so many lives. For that, I adore her and know that my siblings feel the same. I feel honored, and I am so proud that she is my mother. I admire Mom in so many ways- her strength, compassion, kindness, selflessness, and helpfulness. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for her and all that she has done and sacrificed for her kids.

  • JoshuaTibbitts

    Around the house, she calls me the baby because I’m the youngest boy, but that didn’t take away from her other baby boy for he is just disguised in the body of a full grown man and already has a family of his own. Some of the best ways to describe our mom is through her strength and the sacrifice she has made the last 39 years of her life. Working hard to provide a lifestyle for her family that not many families are privileged to have. She reaches out to more than just her family too, she helps other families who don’t have much, and she rarely puts her self first. It would be an understatement to say she deserves a less stressful situation and not to be dealing with the pain her illness has brought on, but even with that going on, she continues to be courageous, giving, and if not stronger than ever. A family as big as ours could never take for granted a mother like this ❤️

  • Teresa Carfagno

    My mother in law is an amazing woman in so many ways. I am so blessed and beyond thankful to have a mother in law that goes against all the cliche’s. She opened her arms to me when I was just a young girl who had stolen her first born son’s heart. She has always accepted me fully into her family and I’ve since gained three sisters, a brother and another set of parents as my own. I will always be thankful for her guidance and acceptance at such an integral time in my life.

    Thank you for the early wisdom you had for me when I had no clue what I was doing as a young mom. I am forever thankful for the acceptance and support that you’ve offered us over the years. Always loving us even when we didn’t always agree on things. You’ve been a great model to me as a second mom. I cannot imagine your daily struggles but I know that you’ve been blessed in all that you’ve given and done for your children. I pray that today is a blessing beyond words to you. I love you, thank you for being you! Happy Mother’s Day:)

  • Amanda

    Although I am extremely impressed by the writing mechanics and style that my siblings display; the written words used to express our Mom do not surprise me. Kenny says sacrifice, Jenna says hope, Marissa says beautiful, Josh says strength, and Teresa says acceptance. Mom has been making sacrifices for her family since her first baby was born at 16 years old. She gives us hope and reminds us “If there is a will, there is a way!” Her heart and soul are beautiful and pure. And even though she is affected daily by a terrible illness, her strength goes on. She will be the first to stick up for anyone and everyone including animals and broken toys. It is a blessing to be my mother’s daughter and I thank God every day for this amazing family of ours. Mom, “To the world you are a mother, but to your family you are the world.” I’ve needed you, I need you now and I’ll always need you! You are my world and I love you with my whole heart.