The young mother set her foot on the path of life.
"Is the way long?"
"Yes," her Guide said, "and the way is hard. You will be old before you reach the end of it. But--" He stopped to smile warmly. "The end will be better than the beginning."
The young mother was so happy, though, that she could not believe anything could be better than these early years. She played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed with them in the clear streams. The sun shone on them and life was good, and the young mother cried, "Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."
Then night came, and storm, and the path was dark. The children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close, covering them with her mantle. Her children said, "Oh, Mother, we are not afraid when you are near." The mother said, "This is better than the brightness of day, for I have taught my children courage."
Then the morning came, and there was a hill ahead. The children climbed and grew weary. The mother was weary, too, but she kept encouraging her children, "A little patience and we are there." So the children continued to climb. When they reached the top, they said, "We could not have done it without you, Mother." And the mother, when she lay down that night, looked past the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last. My children have learned fortitude in the face of difficulty. Yesterday I taught them courage, today I have taught them strength."
With the next day came strange clouds that darkened the earth--clouds of war and hate and evil. The children groped and stumbled. The mother said, "Look up. Lift your eyes past the blackness to the Light." The children looked up and saw an Everlasting Glory above the strange clouds. It guided them and brought them through the darkness and evil. That night the mother said, "This is the best day of all, for I have helped my children learn to see God."
The days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years. The mother grew old, until she was very little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and they walked with courage. When the way was hard, they helped their mother; when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather. At last they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gate flung wide.
The mother said, "I have reached the end of my journey. Now I know that the end really is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and they will teach their children after them."
The children said, "You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates."
They stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. They said, "We can't see her, but she is with us still. A mother like ours is more than a memory; she is a living presence."
~ Written for Good Housekeeping Magazine in 1933 by Temple Bailey ~