Happy Mother’s Day: A Tribute To My Mother

When I attended my forty-year reunion, I was reunited with friends I hadn’t seen in almost forever: Jay Defee, Steve Boyd, Todd Samuels, and others. They were saddened to hear about my mother’s passing. They remembered things about her that I had almost forgotten; and they shared fond memories of her humor and kindness–and how she helped all of us in Cub Scouts.

I thought more about my mother and her impact on my life. She was the best. She had a sense of humor like few people I have ever known—quick and witty. I don’t remember her without a smile. She never screamed at me, even though it may have been needed. She was my guardian angel.

When I was four, my intestines fell out; blood covered the bathroom. The doctors told my mother I had cancer, and I would probably die. They ran all kinds of tests; and I remember taking castor oil five times a day, every day. She never looked sad and nursed me through everything, even when I cried and begged, “Please let me die! I don’t want any more.” Now, with children of my own, I understand how difficult my words were for her. She never complained. Two years later, they told her I had a growing problem, and that I would be fine.

Just when she felt relief, I came down with a strange form of epilepsy. She nursed me through that for three more years. As mysteriously as it came, it too disappeared.

Scarlet fever hit me when I was a teenager. They quarantined me; but my mother was by my side through the whole ordeal, oblivious of what might happen to her.

When I wasn’t sick, I was into mischief—all the time!

My Dad died when I was ten; and my mother taught me how to fish, hunt, and drive. Turns out she was an expert shot.

Everything I could catch turned into a pet: pigeons, snakes, frogs, and lizards, not to mention parakeets, hamsters, fish, dogs, and cats.

Mom didn’t even get mad when I convinced my brother that the snake that bit him was poisonous. Or the time I charged comics and models every day for a month.

Then there was the time she screamed when a snake coiled around her leg in the kitchen. I pulled the snake off her leg. Her concern was obvious when she asked, “Are there any more snakes loose in the house?” I shook my head no, but four more snakes were loose in the house. My mother threatened to whip the daylights out of me if the snakes got in bed with her. Thank God that never happened.

When we went on trips, my brother and I would always ask her, “Are we out of Texas yet?”

She would smile and say, “The sun has riz, the sun has set . . . and here we is in Texas yet!” Those words remain with me today.

As years passed, my mother taught me to be a gentleman. “Always treat a woman with respect,” she would say. “Never hit a woman, and never let anyone else hit a woman.” Just so I wouldn’t forget, she smiled and said, “If I ever hear that you hit a woman, I’ll castrate you.” Hey, my mom was serious. One thing she never did was lie. I never hit a woman, and I never will.

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