Ode to my mom

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

It dawned on me that I have talked about all of my family except my mother.

I think this may be a psychological thing. My mother died when she was 53 and I was 36. That’s been a long time ago, but I still have trouble talking about her.

My dad, my cousin Wayne and I were by her side when she died. She took her last breath as the sun rose over the James River outside her window.

My mom was the most beautiful woman I ever laid my eyes on. That wasn’t just bias. As a matter of fact I once took a picture of her to school and my classmates thought it was a picture of a movie star. She was a 5 foot 2 inch, 116 pounds, brunette with blue eyes. She always looked more like she should be my sister than my mom She was soft-spoken and almost smiling or laughing.

When I was small she didn’t hesitate to correct me and she was quick to use corporal punishment when I did something really bad. Sometimes she was so quick I was stunned.

The worst thing I ever did was spit at her. I was probably four or five and I had seen an older girl next door do it so I thought it must be the thing to do. The next thing I knew I was on the ground looking up at her. I found out in a hurry it wasn’t something I wanted to do again.

As I grew into a teenager, my mom was my best friend. We spent time shopping for clothes together and often swapped outfits with each other after we bought them. After shopping we usually went somewhere to pick up something to carry home for dinner and we were always there by the time my dad got home.

She got angry with me from time to time and she told my cousin Wayne when he wasn’t behaving properly, but I only saw her angry with my father once. That was because he put a small green snake at the kitchen window when she was washing dishes. I have a picture he took of her when she was fussing at him. It is one of those Kodak moments. I can tell you it was a lot funnier to us than it was to her.

When I grew up and married, we were even closer. I had always cleaned when I was home and ironed clothes so I didn’t have much trouble with those things, but I didn’t know much about cooking. I called her most afternoons to ask her how to cook whatever I wanted to fix for dinner. With her help, I got to the point where I could cook anything I chose.

We also spent many days preparing and canning food. It was hard work, but the companionship was great.

We didn’t just work though. We fished together and swam together. We played badminton in her front yard and horseshoes in the backyard. There were days we would go out to eat together and just talk. We could talk about anything.

When my first child came, it was as big a wonder to her as it was to me. She was by my side until my first child, Terry, was born. I torn the sleeve out of her suit jacket.

She loved my children, but she died so young. Thadd and Scott only have sketchy memories of things they did with her. That is one of the things I really regret.

I wish they could have known her longer and better. I wish she could have seen her grandchildren grown and married with children of their own.

I wish we could have enjoyed it together.

But in the end, if you have faith, you must believe that God knows best. She struggled at times with the faith she had been raised in but, in the end, she returned to it. I shall see her again!