Dateline: Mother's Day 2021
On this day, we remember our mothers with fondness. If your Mom is passed, she no doubt pulls on your heart a little more fervently today than most other days of the year. God bless you…and her memory.
We usually honor our moms by telling about the things she did that were dear to us – her habits and actions that made her special. I want to tell you today some things my Mom never did.
My Mom never…
My Mom was not and is not now a complainer. She has been given ample opportunity to do so, too.
My Dad was almost always self-employed. He was a struggling, dreaming entrepreneur. Not every dream he pursued panned out, either. Early in their marriage, from my birth until I was in second or third grade, Dad’s vigorous pursuits dragged Mom from town to town and state to state. They settled down in Mineral Wells, Texas for most of my school years, but the nomadic ways resumed after I left home.
Mom lived in little shacks and mobile homes. She never lived in a van down by the river but she did live in a travel trailer for a few months. Once, in Louisiana, our apartment was the office space in the corner of the auto repair shop Dad opened.
Mom laughs every time she remembers me at four years old asking if a motel room we were staying overnight in was our new home.
She laughed and maybe she cried, though I never saw the latter. She never, however, complained.
Fed me cereal or pop tarts for breakfast.
Despite either working in a daycare, Christian school, or with Dad in his business, Mom always fed me a hot breakfast. I must have been nine or ten the first time I ate cold cereal – at my friend Brett Dickerson’s house. Whether it was a full-blown meal with eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, and iced tea or a bowl of sweet rice and toast, Mom got up early enough to cook breakfast for her squad.
I am the oldest of four and I do not believe my siblings can successfully contest my assertion that I accumulated more whuppin’s than all of them combined. I was the test dummy for parenthood and I tested my parents and their patience with rigor and regularity. I do not, however, remember my Mom ever tanning my hide. Maybe she swatted me early on in some time in the faraway past, which memory I have not carried into adulthood. But I doubt it.
She did say, more than a few times, “We will deal with this when your Dad gets home.”
Then she sent me to my room to watch the maddening seconds tick by and wish she WOULD spank me instead.
Took someone else’s side
My Mom is fiercely loyal to her kids. If there is a dispute, she is going to take our part, right, wrong, or indifferent. More than my share of the time, I was in the wrong. If she learned that I was in the wrong (like that one time I tumped over tombstones in the Strawn cemetery or the time I got crossways with the coach and was suspended for a game for having a “smart mouth”), she held me to account. But she always began every dispute assuming I was right and you had to, by George, prove her wrong.
Fought with my Dad
More kids than not, I think, grow up in a house where the parents either fight regularly or at least on occasion. Sometimes, it is a knockdown, drag-out. Other times, it is a cold war. Whether it is yelling and screaming and hurling pots and pans or stone-cold silence for hours or days, kids experience the difficulties of adulthood and marriage through their parents.
I do not recall a single fight my parents ever had. I am sure they had their disputes. I guess they did. I could not prove it.
I give my Mom all the credit for this, for everyone knows, for all of the glowing things I have written about my father since his passing in 1991, he could be an asshole.
I am, in fact, my father’s son.
“Lost her temper”
Mom never went on a tear, as they say. She did not “go off” on her kids. I did test her sainthood like I was on the Devil’s payroll and that was the job he gave me, but she was a rock. She never lost her temper with me. She did find it a few times, but she never “went ballistic.”
Put me down
My Mom never once to this day has berated me or told me I was somehow insufficient. Never. Not Once. If I told her when I was eight years old that I wanted to be a preacher, she assumed there would never be a better one. If I told her in my thirties I was writing a book, she could not wait for it to hit the shelves. I suspect if I decided to raise grasshoppers or build stagecoaches, she would be the first to invest in the endeavor.
She never called me bad names – except, of course, “David Eugene,” when I was doing something that warranted putting the first and middle names in play.
Missed a note
I grew up in churches where my Mom was at the piano. She was not the best piano player in the family. My Aunt Nelda holds that title. She played the notes as written and added none of her own flair to them. But she never hit a sour one.
Mom also sang more than her share of “specials” at church. She had this rich, powerful, alto voice. She was a poor man’s Adele before there was an Adele.
Some songs I cannot hear without thinking they are Mom’s songs, like…
“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land,
Yes, I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.”
Or how about…
“By the proud worshippers,
Scorned for her sin,
Was the poor wanderer
Rudely brought in.
Scribes came and Pharisees,
Eager to see,
What the meek Nazarene’s,
Verdict would be.
“Neither do I condemn thee,”
Precious words divine!
Falling from lips of mercy,
Like the sweetest chime.
Wonderful words of Jesus!
Sing them o’er and o’er,
“Neither do I condemn thee,
Go, and sin no more.”
There are so many others, but these encapsulate her spirit so well: her love for Jesus and her capacity to accept you without judgment.
Yelled at a ref
Starting with little league and peewee football, I played sports all the way through high school. Mom was always there to cheer and support me. She never, however, yelled at a referee. Mom has this respect for authority that is ingrained in her. If an ump rang me up, she figured he was right to do so. If a ref blew a whistle and accused me of a foul, I needed to try not to do it that way next time. If a doctor said take this pill or get that shot, she took the pill or the shot – or had me do so, if I was the patient.
Loved another man
My Dad was a wonderful man. He loved Mom like his own soul. He leaned on her. She was his rock, his crutch, his best friend, his soulmate, his true believer. He was flawed. He was imperfect. He did not always succeed but he never gave up.
Mom, when she was seventeen, decided she loved William David Strother. She never changed her mind about that, not to this day. Dad died when he was 51. She was only 47 when she was widowed. She is closing in on 80 now. Along the way, a few men looking for a good woman have come around. But they weren’t Dad and that was that.
Faithful, loyal, steady, understated, beautiful, supportive. My Mom has never failed to be all of those things and more.