Mom, Do you remember?
My mother has been deceased for several years, so she won’t be available Sunday to call or visit and share some memories with. The memories, however, can still be recalled.
My mother had her strengths and weaknesses as a person and as a mom, but one thing was constant and sure always: she loved me and my five brothers and sisters unconditionally. Yes, she had a temper and could get riled up at us (frankly, for good reasons), but she could be equally quick with encouragement and praise. Whether we were good or bad, we were hers and she loved us. And was quite protective of us, perhaps to a fault some might think.
If given truth serum, I would have to confess that I gave my mother some headaches and heartaches beginning at an early age. I’m confident I did many things to upset her that she never mentioned to me as I grew old enough to understand them. But, from time to time, a few things became part of family talk and lore.
At the time she was pregnant with my second sister, if I remember correctly, I did something I wasn’t supposed to do and for which I was to be punished. Deciding that some swats on my behind were not desirable, I took off running from her. Surprise, since she was well into being with child, she couldn’t/wouldn’t chase and catch me. Successfully running away from punishment seemed like a great victory.
What I didn’t know was that she called Dad at work to inform him of the situation and seek his counsel. His counsel was simple: Let it ride; I’ll be home soon and will take care of it. I’m not sure if that was the first time I learned a lesson, but it was a lesson that stuck with me: A paddling from Mom was much preferred to one from Dad.
One of the most emotional times I remember with Mom came in the summer between my junior and senior year in high school. I was 17 and the proud owner of an old ’49 Chevy coupe, vacuum stick shift purchased with my own, hard-earned money. Let’s be honest, it was not a thing of beauty. But, it ran and I loved riding around with my sweetie in the car with me. As was the in-thing then, one of her scarves was tied to the rearview mirror. Cool! Knowing what that car meant to me, Mom swore she would never drive it. No way was she going to take a chance on having a wreck or in some way doing damage to that prized possession.
You guessed it. A time came when she drove it. I had joined the Naval Reserve that February and in the summer I left for boot camp at Great Lakes in Chicago, IL. I left my car keys at home, telling Mom and Dad they were welcome to use the car. I knew, though, that I had no worries. Dad was highly unlikely to drive it and Mom probably would prefer death to taking a chance on driving the car. Lo and behold, a pressing situation occurred (I don’t recall what it was) and Mom defied her resolve not to drive my car.
At the time, we lived in one of Mr. Hesser’s rent houses on the hill at the corner of Perkins Road and Sixth Street. Yes, there was a hill then and that was not a major intersection. Mom made it up the hill and to the end of our driveway to park the car next to the old telephone pole. Remember when telephone poles were treated with black, oily creosote? This one was, and Mom misjudged the distance and barely scraped the pole with the front fender, putting a small streak of black creosote on the fender.
The world had not come to an end, but Mother was crushed emotionally. I am told she cried, apparently more than once, and spent the remaining days of my absence in emotional agony wondering how she was going to tell me about this earth-shattering damage she had inflicted on my car.
As I recall, she and Dad met me at the airport when I returned and she lacked the nerve to tell me before we got home. I was totally oblivious to her angst. Reaching home, I dashed into the house and snatched up my keys. Maybe she planned to tell me then, but I didn’t give her a chance. It was great to be home, but at 17 and in love I had to dash off to see my sweetheart. So, out the door I went, hopped in the car, and took off, never noticing the black smear on the fender.
I don’t remember for sure when, but in the next day or two I noticed the smudge and asked Dad if he knew how it got there. He did. He told me and expressed hope that I would not react too severely when Mom summoned up the courage to apologize to me. Mom actually drove my car, the car she swore she would never drive? Wow! I was so amazed I couldn’t be upset. I didn’t tell her until later years that I thought it was a bit funny happening that way. I don’t think she ever saw any humor in it.
Remember your mother Sunday and be especially thankful if you were blessed with a loving and caring mom. Mothers are special.