When the young man was 21, he fell in love with a blond-haired girl. They dreamed. They planned their future family, starting with two children and ending up with five in order to accommodate all the names they wanted to use. They argued a lot about their fantasy children's names. That was a signal. Later they argued about everything else. Having children was more of a fantasy for him. She desparately wanted to be a mother. She fell out of love with him. It hurt a lot.

All that happened in Ohio. He moved on to New York. She went to Chicago for grad school. In the '70s in New York there seemed to be a lot of mothers but no fathers. The women he had relationships with had children. He was able to play at being a father on the key days of the year: birthdays, Christmas and, of course, Mother's Day.

Throughout the decade of the '70s, he never really lost touch with the blond girl. Even when she got married and moved to the West. And when she had a son, after several years of trying, he was glad for her because being a mother had been the single most important thing she wanted from life. He looked forward to being able to greet her on her first Mother's Day.

The birth of her child had not helped her marriage. In late April, her husband had gone off. When he telephoned on the Day, a tearful voice answered. "Happy Mother's Day," he said. There was a long silence. Then in a husky voice she said, "You're the only one who remembered." Every year since he still does.