My friend was recalling the time her son celebrated Mother's Day by bringing her breakfast in bed. A young but intense fisherman, he had risen before dawn and taken his rod to the nearest stream. By 9 he was back in the kitchen, frying his freshly caught trout and by 9:30 he was at her bedside.

She awoke form a stupor brought on by her celebration of Mother's Day Eve to meet the flat-eyed stare of several small fish, their crisply fried selves resting in a pool of bacon grease.

It may not have been the easiest meal she'd ever eaten, she said, but it was the most lovingly prepared.

It's traditional to serve mother breakfast in bed on Mother's Day, but it's not always possible to catch her there. With early-to-rise mothers, it may be more practical to plan a child catered lunch or dinner.

And mothers who have let their food obessions be known might like it best of all if they were given an enormous bowl of popcorn or two pounds of chocolate or endless glasses of champagne afloat with strawberries -- all for their very own.

Instead of entertaining Mom, it is also possible to make a gift of helping her entertain. Offering to clean up after her next dinner party or to keep ashtrays emptied and hors d'oeuvre trays filled at a party might score higher than a meal if the cook's preparation consists of first asking mother where the eggs are, and then where the pan is, and then where the bowl is and what do do with all these things anyway.

But even someone unused to cooking could follow a recipe for salad dressing and store it in a snap-top bottle as a time-saving gift. (Contran's, 3227 Grace St. NW, has them: $1.60 to $4.95.)

Another good gift would be organizing all the recipes that get cut from magazines and newspapers and stuffed inside cookbooks. A small photo album makes a handy storage place and add-on pages make it possible to arrange recipes alphabetically. If photo albums are too expensive, the recipes could be alphabetized in cardboard, accordion-style file folder from a stationer's store.

Mothers who enjoy cooking would apprecaite fresh herbs from the Washington Cathedral Greenhouse, where perennials sell for $1.50 and annuals for 85 cents each. The greenhouse opens daily 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 9:30 to 4:30, with the annual Flower Mart scheduled for Friday.

Another inexpensive gift would be canning labels. Little Caledonia, 1491 Wisconsin Ave. NW, has packets of 12 with charming drawings of sheep and hens for $2 Cheapest of all is to give mother a homemade gift certificate: a"I promise to peel 100 carrots"; "I promise to peel 10 onions" (fair is fair); or hang up guests' coats or, at their next party, to try very hard to heed the maxim that there are times when children should be seen but not heard. h