A day to appreciate your mother

Published 7:25 pm Saturday, May 9, 2009

As this is written, most of us are preparing to celebrate our mothers on the day set aside for that.

My own mother is no longer living. She died many years ago.

I have many memories of her and none of them are negative. I’ve thought about that and I don’t think I can say that of anyone else I’ve ever known.

My father was a Methodist minister back when preachers made little money. The most he ever earned was the year he died — $6,000. But he insisted that my mother should not work. Her place, they agreed, was in the home, taking care of my sister and me.

Dad died unexpectedly, so Mother had to find a way to support us herself. A registered nurse – though long inactive – she quickly did whatever was necessary to bring herself back into compliance and went to work at the local hospital. She always worked from 11 p.m.-7 a.m. because that let her be home while Judy and I were awake and not at school. Occasionally, she also “sat” with someone to make a little extra money. When that happened, she was working at least 16 hours a day. I don’t remember her ever complaining, or even giving us any reason to wonder if it might not be a problem.

I worked sacking groceries and checking to help put myself though college, but, in retrospect, I paid very little of that expense. She shouldered that, and again, without ever giving any indication it was any sort of burden.

While still at home, I wrecked the car I had bought for $700 and financed over two years. Mother found the money to have that car repaired. I don’t remember that she ever asked me to pay any part of that repair bill. (I was commuting to college and the car was critical to that. For her, nothing, absolutely nothing was more important than my finishing college.)

I remember my Mother as being quick to laugh and always pleasant.

But I also remember that she could become an entirely different person in a crisis, and the transition from one to the other was instantaneous. It was, I think, a part of her nurse persona.

When the crisis came, she was all business. Nothing rattled her. I remember the day my sister fell out of a tree and came screaming toward the house, her forearm bent in the middle, obviously broken. Calmly, mother went to Judy and did what needed to be done. I think I remember that we took her to the hospital ourselves.

I did not see my mother much the last years of her life, and I can think of nothing I regret more than that. I was getting past a divorce. I had dropped out and was driving a “big truck” cross country. I was sitting in Stuttgart, Ark., waiting for a load when my dispatcher contacted me to tell me I needed to call my sister immediately. He told me to call him back as soon as I had talked to her and when I did, he told me I could drop the trailer where I was and drive the tractor from Stuttgart to Jacksboro, Texas, where Mother had lived and was to be buried.

Here’s my gift to you and, perhaps, to your mother today. It’s a word of advice: Appreciate her now, while you can tell her. Don’t miss any opportunity to do that, to be with her and to enjoy her.

Happy Mother’s Day.

David Sullens is president of Roanoke-Chowan Publications LLC and publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald and the Gates County Index.