For their mother’s 80th birthday, her four sons, living in different places around the world, decided to buy her the best presents they could. The first bought her a two storey house; the second, a Rolls Royce; the third had a world-class cinema built at her home; but the fourth, knowing that his mother loved to read the Bible but that her sight was now failing, bought her a 25-year-old macaw that, since its birth, had been trained to recite any passage of the Bible on command, by naming the book, chapter, and verse.

A week after she had received their gifts, they received her thank-you letters. ‘Arnold, thank you for the house. I only need a tenth of the space, but I have to clean the whole place and the rates are very high, but thank you all the same.

‘Bernard, thank you for the car. I handed in my drivers license five years ago and can’t afford a driver, and because most of my friends are dead I rarely go anywhere except for the shopping centre, and I can’t afford the registration, but thank you.

‘Charles, thank you for the home theatre. I can barely see and have no idea how to operate any of the machinery, and it’s easy for me to fall in the dark, but thanks anyway.

‘David, you were the only one to put a little thought into your gift. You knew the just what my wants and needs are. Thank you so much for the chicken; it was delicious.’

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* I believe Mothers Day has no apostrophe because, like “drivers license”, the possessive noun could equally be plural or singular.

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