My dear friend Mitch told me an old Serbian story, a story that defines a Mother's love. I'd like to share it.
There was an old woman who had raised her children. They had all left home and made lives for themselves. Some lived near and some lived far.
Her oldest son, who loved her dearly, still lived close by, just a short walk through the forest. He visited his mother often. Taking her cheese from the village and sometimes bringing in wood for her fire. His wife really didn't like these visits. She felt that it took time away from her. She really was quite jealous of his mother. She could not understand love that was without conditions, love that was without boundaries.
When the son would come home from visits with his mother, bringing a fresh loaf of bread from his mother's oven or a small jar of his mother's jam, the wife would become hysterical. She would demand that he throw the bread out. She would accuse him of loving his mother more than her.
The young man tried all that he could to prove to his wife how much he loved her. He stopped going to his mother's house for visits at his wife's insistence.
He still had to hunt in the forest near her home. When he would return home with a dove or a rabbit his wife would accuse him of visiting his mother's home. "But you were in the forest near her home!" She would scream. He stopped hunting in the forest at his wife's insistence.
Walking down the village lane, shopping at the open market, the man and wife happened along his mother as she traded some eggs for cheese. The young man wrapped his arms around his mother and gave her the biggest hug. His wife lifted her skirts and stormed off towards home.
"You love her more than me!" the wife ranted at her husband when he returned home.
"Sweetheart, I love you! You are my wife. She is only my mother." The young man tried and tried to make her understand the difference between the love of a mother and the love of a wife. She would have nothing to do with it.
"Prove your love for me!" she demanded.
"Anything, my love, anything!"
Kill your mother and bring me her heart. He could see how intent his wife was. If he didn't commit this abominable deed he would lose the love of his life. He agreed.
He went to the village and bought a big wheel of his mother's favorite cheese and fresh strawberries that his mother loved so much. He presented the gifts to his mother and when she turned her back to prepare some of the berries and cheese for her son he drove a knife into her back.
He wrapped her heart with the scarf from her head and placed the bundle into his leather pack. Headed straight home to present the bleeding heart to his wife, tears streamed down his face. The dark of the forest and the tears made it difficult to see the path. He begin to walk faster and faster. He was almost running when his foot caught on a root and flying he went.
His face and knees and hands were skinned and bleeding, thorns and pebbles embedded in his palms and his knees. His mother's heart flew from the satchel, unrolled from the scarf as it bounced, coming to rest at his side. Gently, the heart whispered, "Are you okay, my son?"