Do you remember the year 2000? I had forgotten a lot about that year until I had a chance to visit my brother, who lives in Idaho, last week. He loves Idaho, but I didn’t lose anything up there. However, it had been a long time since I had seen him and his family, so we went up over the weekend. He keeps asking me to move to Idaho, so my bride and I decided to go up and see him. We were not interested in moving, but I hadn’t seen him and his family in quite some time.
Roger (my brother) said it is a 12-hour drive if you don’t stop. The roads are long and lonely in Eastern California, western Nevada and Oregon. We made it less than 12 hours and weren’t completely worn out, so we also drove straight through coming back. Don’t do this unless you are in love with your passenger. I would like to say something good about Idaho, but nothing seems to come to mind. Wait! Something good did happen this time.
My beautiful bride and I were down in the basement goofing around and Lorraine exclaimed, almost as loud as she did when she sees a Marshall’s store, “Look honey, it’s the story you wrote about your mother.” That was the single hardest column I have ever written. My tears flowed freely all the time I was writing. If you love your mother, I think you know what I mean. I had written this right about time the century passed. I had made copies and sent them to all my brothers and then the column disappeared from my computer. I kept calling my brothers for a copy, but they were busy. The pastor read the column at my mother’s funeral, but the chance was lost to grab the paper because, well, we were burying my mom.
I was so happy to see the column, so I grabbed it and said I would get them another copy. My mom’s birthday is July the fifth. So maybe I can think of this as a present very late. I’m going to submit that column for this week’s scribbling.
Back then I had read a column by Ellen Goodman (a syndicated columnist). She was trying to figure out who would be the man or woman of the century. At first I didn’t pay much attention and then I thought of my mom. I thought my mom could easily be the woman of the millennium. She probably would blush when she read what I wrote, but it seemed as if I was being prompted from some other force to write this.
She was living in Wasco at the time. It had been the childhood town of her four boys. These four boys were my mom’s treasures, who were constantly trying to outdo each other to see who could get in the most trouble. That led to many notes from teachers and a few rides home by the local law enforcement authorities. I know it hurt my mom each time this would happen, but she didn’t yell or punish us, she just kept loving us. She also made sure we didn’t stray during the summer.
Every summer she would find somewhere that allowed children to work in the field. She would pile us in the car and we picked beans or chopped cotton or whatever was available. We never got any money, the work was for our “school clothes.” My mom only had a third-grade education, but she didn’t need a college degree to teach her boys decency, honesty, manners and respect. When she was about 8 years old, a plowshare dropped from the wire holding it and smashed her nose flat. She was told by her step-parents that she was so ugly no one would ever want to marry her. That didn’t stop her from loving her God and working long hours in the fields.
She was so caring and giving with so much love for all around her she was able to overcome these noises and marry my dad and make him a good home for 40 years. Never strayed, never lost sight of her family being first. She didn’t invent anything or cure any disease, unless you count the sickness she got her boys through. My mother was always behind the scenes. My father was always the head of the household. Mom was happy to be thought of as the supporting wife. Or at least that’s what we boys thought. I know now that she was the strength of our family.
When dad was drinking or chasing pie in the sky, she was always there for her boys. No matter what trouble we were in or who had brought us home, we never doubted that she would hold us and tell us she loved us. The only time I ever saw my mother angry was when someone threatened her family. When dad was a little too late or she heard that he was getting a little friendly with a woman in the bar, she took that as a danger to the family and took off to make sure he got home safe. And maybe the sparks would fly enough for the boys to hear, but I can’t remember any of that.
Mom would never allow any of her boys to see any friction in the family unit. Dad was our hero and she wouldn’t allow anything to blemish his position as head of the household. It was many years after her boys had grown and had children of their own that she would sit down and tell us tales we had never heard before. When my dad died, everyone thought that my mom would join him soon as she gave the impression that she was dependent on him. The gossip was absolutely wrong. She took the reins and guided all of us to adulthood.
I wish I could say we turned out to be business moguls or doctors or something like that, but we just took her love and turned it to our families. She was a good teacher. Her boys were her gift to the world and she made sure we knew where the family Bible was kept. She cooked our favorite foods, wiped away our tears and never allowed us to wear dirty clothes to school. They may have been threadbare, but they were always clean. She even lined us up to make sure our hair was combed before we got on the bus. Her only cause was to God and her family.
Maybe not earthshaking news, but it still makes me smile because she never wavered. I know she is looking down on us and her presence is always felt when life gets really rough. She thought of God and family. What else do we need? Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you. God Bless.