a day to pay tribute to mother with flowers, cards, gifts, visits or words of appreciation. All of those are important, but to have any deeper meaning, Mother's Day must be more than a single event, a once-a-year remembering.

Given the vast debt everyone owes to a mother - life and the miracle of birth, nurturing, training, teaching and love - a one-day holiday is far too little for the depth of emotion that should be shown.Mothers give unconditional love all their lives. They sacrifice, deny themselves many things and make others the center of their existence. They suffer pain and perhaps see dreams go unfulfilled.

Yet motherhood is not hardship, though there is that, too. There is joy, there is growth, there is something ennobling about motherhood that no other activity in life can match.

Mothers are happy to be remembered on Mother's Day. But the gifts are the least of it. A visit is worth more. It is the visits all year, the words of kindness, the little things that happen between Mother's Day one year and Mother's Day the next year that really show what we feel.

There is one gift that can be given on Mother's Day that would mean more than all the flowers or the most expensive present. Yet it costs almost nothing except a little time - and anyone can do it.

Take a pen and a blank sheet of paper. Think about mother, about what she has been and done for you, about what you owe her and about how you feel. Then write a few simple words expressing those thoughts.

It will be the best present she has ever received. She may weep over it. And it will be cherished all the days of her life.

If the note isn't done on Mother's Day, don't wait until next year. Do it right away because in reality, every day should be Mother's Day. And one day it might be too late.