Yep, it's Mother's Day.
I love my Mom.
She is great, and still going strong at eighty-six years old. That's pretty good, eighty-six. Mom was always cool to me and she still is cool to me. She's only four foot eleven, although I think she has shrunk some over the years. I used to be irritated that my father married such a midget, because I maxed out at five foot nine something in high school and that was the end of the growth. But then if he hadn't married Mom, then she wouldn't be my Mom, and I wouldn't want that at all.
She was always great when I was at my worst, when I was scared as a kid or lonely or was lost in the woods in the winter and finally made it home. She was the one who warmed a hot bath and felt sorry for me. I wasn't going to my Dad for sympathy, my Mom was the one who would say, "Oh you poor thing."
I needed my dad for toughness training and pain tolerance training but I needed her to give me a hug when I needed it most. To a little boy, that is pretty crucial. And she always came through. I mean, boys always need their moms. They need them to make cupcakes for them and they need them to show them that they can do anything if they just set their minds to it. Mom is a great example of that: She started painting in her sixties and she became a well known artist with her own gallery and she became a judge at art shows, too. How many folks are scared to put themselves out there when they are thirty or forty? Plenty. But it takes extra gumption to start a difficult endeavor when you are in your sixties. She was always just going , going out of her comfort zone and trying knew things no matter how much she didn't want to do it. She knew that if she didn't try, that she wouldn't have the experience and she would regret it. She always took the step. Her attitude reminds me of the story I read one time about a lady who wanted to start working on an advanced degree when she was forty-five years old. However, she felt like she was too old and told her husband as much, " But by the time that I finish, I will be almost fifty! " and her husband asked her, "How old will you be then if you don't start?"
We have always been buddies. You know what we bonded the most over? A love of reading and a love for books. My Mom used to be an English teacher (as well as the school's tennis coach) at a high school in Maryland. She loves to read and she gave me that love. She always said, "When you love to read, you are never lonely." We would go to book stores together and she would always buy me any book that I wanted. And she wouldn't judge the books, she would just get them for me. Whether they were about football or boxing, or history or nutrition, or Vikings or autobiographies or hunting or fishing or true crime. I got them all over the years. I'll be honest with you: I didn't learn a whole lot in school. Too boring.
Everything that I learned, I gleaned from the books that she bought me. I think that buying her a Kindle was the best thing that I ever did for her. I remember that when my sister was at John Hopkins for her cancer therapy that my Mom said she wouldn't have known what to do with herself if she hadn't had her Kindle. That made me feel good, to finally give something back to her that helped her out.
Both of my parents were teachers and I got my love for teaching from both of them. She still teaches classes, although now, she teaches foreign students how to speak and understand English. She has changed lives by teaching adults how to read, a gift of unimaginable importance to someone who is illiterate, a gift that changes some one's life forever.
Mom and I did other things together. We were huge Dallas Cowboys fans in the 1970's and 1980's and she and I went to see them play against the Colts at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore in 1981 and then went to see them play the Redskins in 1982, also. This little lady navigating her way through the huge traffic jams and crowds so that her baby boy could see Randy White play football.
She would do things like have a surprise banner congratulating me on winning an award when I got to the house or reading one of my stories and always complimenting me and more importantly, encouraging me to keep writing, to keep going.
When I got older and I was around men in high administrative positions who questioned whether a woman was able to do a job that traditionally was reserved for men, I was surprised at their attitudes. I had grown up around my mother, and she was so strong and independent that I never thought her gender mattered one bit.
When my sister was very sick, Dad was staying in Maryland with her. And while he was taking care of her, she passed away in the middle of the night. Mom was with me and my family, a few hours away at the beach. When the call came from my Father that my sister had died, Mom said, "Don't worry about anything, Dad and I will take care if it. I want the kids to have a good time on vacation." And then she got out of bed and got dressed and drove to be with my father.
She grew up at the end of the depression, and was a small girl during World War II. She had seen her father go off to war and as a little girl, she didn't see her father for years. Her generation suffered and her generation knew what hardship really was and with all of those experiences behind her , she knew that tough situations needed to be handled head on.
It's funny about boys and their mothers, the bond between them. For me, the bond will always be hard to describe. I have always felt protective of her and I have always felt that she was there for me no matter what, no matter how bad I had acted or how much I had disappointed her with stupid stuff that I had said or done. She never gave up on me.
Sometimes a mother sees something in her son that others may not, and I always have felt that she was with me, that she was my number one fan, pushing me, saying go ahead, you can do it! Oh , just do it. Once you start, you'll be happy that you did it.
She gave me confidence in myself when I didn't have it and she gave me love when I needed it the most. And she still does.