When my marketing folks asked me to write a piece for Mother’s Day, the first thing I did was scan my calendar to see exactly when, in this crazy day-to-day life of mine, I could fit in a few minutes to compose my thoughts.

Phillip Cantrell with parents

Phillip Cantrell, mother- Bettye Ruth Williams Cantrell and father- Dave Cantrell

For some reason, when looking at my Outlook calendar, I flipped back to last week as well. There, on Friday, April 22nd, I saw a recurring reminder that simply read “Date mom was diagnosed.” It is a date which passes every year, generally noticed by me only briefly, but contemplated deeply.

If you knew me then you also know that I have another recurring reminder on my calendar coming up on September 8th that’s a reminder of the day my mother departed from this earth.

The last 10 years of her life, my mother and I were frequently at odds over many issues. In retrospect, all seem amazingly petty, but we both let them get in the way of our relationship. That is until that Wednesday afternoon in 2009 when she telephoned to request I go to a doctor’s appointment with her. This was a visit to follow up on numerous recent tests. She told me on the phone, voice trembling, that the nurse had called and requested that she come meet with the doctor in his private office at 4:30. Nobody receives good news in a doctor’s private office at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Bettye Ruth Williams Cantrell

From start to finish, my mother’s battle with Pancreatic cancer lasted a brief 4 ½ months. That’s not much time. Definitely not enough time to say all the things you want to say, do all the things you want to do, or put right all the things that might have gone awry over the past 50 years because of our stubborn personalities.

The fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12 says “Honor your mother and your father.” Then there’s a period after the sentence and with no caveats. The commandment does not say “if you treated each other well” or “if you like each other” or even “if you can afford the time & energy.” Nope. It simply says “Honor your mother and your father.” Period.

I took those instructions to heart and I did the best I could to not only help my mother during her final days, but also to assist my father who had been stricken with Parkinson’s. It was a tough summer for all of us.

Truthfully, it was probably the worst period of time I have ever endured. However, with the support of a loving family, we came through on the other side. Rejoicing in the fact that my mother no longer endured the painful existence that her life had become. She went home.

Phillip Cantrell graduation

Mother-Bettye Ruth Williams Cantrell, Phillip Cantrell and grandmother- Dovie Scott Williams

On this Mother’s Day, if your mother is still with us, I strongly encourage you to call her. Do it now. Spend some time with her. Do it now. Let her know that you appreciate all she did for you. Do it Now. Tell her you love her. DO IT NOW! Inevitably, there will come a time when you will be unable to do so, yet you will trade anything you own simply to have a telephone conversation. When that time comes, all the “stuff” you struggle for won’t matter a dime. Do not leave the important things unsaid or undone. There may not be a tomorrow.

Most importantly, be guided by the fifth commandment. “Honor your father and your mother.” It’s the only commandment that contains a promise: “so that you may live a long, full life…”

Paramount instruction for every Mother’s Day.