This is a story I wrote 20 two years ago. I wrote it to honor my mother on Mother’s Day. She didn’t know I would do this and probably would have asked me not to write it, but it was a gift that came from the heart and she did love that I said it on paper, even if I wasn’t with her.
I had read that all the pundits, politicians, radio and TV stars were looking for a person to be named, “Person of the Century.” As I read about these fine people looking for a person to honor, it occurred to me that I happen to know this person. My mother. Oh sure, almost everyone thinks highly of their mother and could probably have written the same thing about their mother, but I was just starting to write about how I felt about a lot of things and this was burning my mind to say to her. I sent a copy of this essay to all my brothers and a few years later when my mother went to her final reward, they asked me to read it at the gravesite when she was lain to rest.
My mother raised four rambunctious boys who were always trying to outdo each other. This resulted in many visits to the educational and law enforcement community. At no time did she allow these visits to get her down. My mom only finished the fifth grade in school, but she didn’t need a degree for her to teach her sons decency, honesty, respect and manners.
One day, back when she was a child herself, she accidentally had a plowshare drop from the mount and broke her nose. Her mother and father told her she would probably never find a man who would marry her and have children. She never allowed that to get her down.
She was so loving, caring and giving of her love that she didn’t pay any attention to these noises. When my dad married her, they both decided that they would be together for the rest of their lives. My mom and dad were married for over 40 years. It was not always wine and roses. My mom never invented anything, and she didn’t cure any disease. That is, unless you count the many colds, flu, broken bones and black eyes of her sons.
My mother was always behind the scenes. She felt that the man was the head of the household. She played a supporting role. At least that Is what she led her boys to believe. I know now that she was the strength of our family.
When dad was out having a few too many drinks or chasing some pie in the sky, she was always there for us. Home, where we boys always knew we had refuge. Mom only got mad when someone threatened her family. When dad was a little too late getting home or she heard he was paying a little too much attention to or sitting too close to someone, she would get in the car and let everyone know that this was her husband and that he had children at home.
In all this, she never let us see that dad was sometimes weak. It was many years after we had all left home and had children of our own that we found that dad wasn’t a hero.
When my dad died, folks that didn’t know her as much as they thought would say, “Oh Sarah will join Buck soon.” They thought she depended on dad for her strength. Boy oh boy, they didn’t know her at all! She watched over her children, no matter where they were and lived another 45 independent years before she went to her Lord.
I wish I could say that her four boys went on to be great men of industry or designed some machine that brought peace to the world. But we only became adults. We were grown men with children of our own. Because of my mom, we learned the importance of providing for our families. We are in reasonable shape for the future.
We made mistakes, everyone does, but none of what we do that brings an arched eyebrow from our friends or employers came from my mom. We learned to work from our mom. Each summer she would take us to the fields where we learned that money only comes from our own sweat and toil. That picking beans isn’t a bad job because you are helping the farmer get paid for his work. That chopping cotton in the summer heat of the San Joaquin Valley is but a reminder that there is a hotter place where you wouldn’t want to go.
We never really got a paycheck. We just took whatever we made and gave it to mom. The money we made was always given to mom for “school clothes.” It didn’t matter what we did because we were just learning that all the jobs had to be done and they all aren’t easy or fast. It is just work.
My mom never led a protest, never made headlines of any paper and went to her Lord with a smile because she was going home. She didn’t care. She had four boys that she figures were the future of the world. The meals as meager as they were, came from God. We never went to school with dirty clothes, although they were a little faded, and being third in line I often had to put paper in the toes of my brothers hand-me-down shoes so they would fit.
No matter where we lived, we went to Sunday school every week. Our clothes were always clean, our hair was combed even if we had to hold the bus until she finished getting us ready. We never needed to join a gang because we had our own gang. Her love was the protection we always knew was present.
I wrote this column off some of the words in the letter I wrote for my mom, and I’m happy to say that I found the only other woman that loves like my mom. That is my beautiful bride Lorraine. I never worry about her presence, her love for me and her children. She makes sure to cook their favorite meal when they come over, gives them all her love and hopes for the future. I love her so.