Today is Mother's Day, a day when we celebrate and honor the mothers who raised us. It is the first of two fairly close together special days for honoring our parents and it is certainly appropriate that we do so as just a small representation of our requirement by one of God's Commandments to honor them. But since today is Mother's Day, we will focus on the import role that mothers play in developing us and to do that, I must cite my own experienc since it is what I know. Hopefully, you will have your own, also very positive, experience as well and it will remind us of just how important it is that we celebrate mothers on this special once a year day.
It all starts, of course, with our mothers meeting our fathers, falling in love and deciding they want to spend their lives together as husband and wife. From that beginning, it traditionally has followed suit that children are a natural result in nature, and we as tiny, helpless babies enter the picture. I, like you, don't remember the early initial period of life, but normally it picks up with memory beginning about three or so. From there on out, the memories grow and become clearer, and I can say that as a young child I can always remember my mom being there for me. She taught me many things about life, read stories to me, cared for the many scrapes and cuts that little boys always have and she loved me. Since Dad was working all day and Mom devoted herself to raising we three children, she was the one who was always there. If I was mischievous, deserved praise or whatever the situation was, she always handled it appropriately. If she was more upset, she would always defer to Dad and told me he'd deal with me and that was often harder on me than anything else. But I always knew she loved me.
A little later in my young life, at age nine when my father unexpectedly died, she noticeably changed her role. Oh, she was still loving and kind, but when necessary, she could be "the man of the house," the disciplinarian, and usually she didn't have to raise a hand, although I wasn't immune from a swat on the hiney or an upfront and personal experience with a exquisitely selected cat of nine tails delivered at the right spot and force level of a bare calf. As a teen, the selected punishment was a grueling day of yard work in the summer heat with only a break at times for a drink of cold water. She said with the big shade trees in the back yard, there was no reason I needed to come in until the work was done to perfection and then, when famished and eating dinner, she asked me if I had learned my lesson. Indeed, I did, for deep down inside I knew she was right and I loved her, even if I didn't want to admit it right then. But through it all she taught me about honest work, right and wrong, the importance of my faith and all the things we need instilled within us that silently guide us later.
I remember as it got near the time of finishing high school, I couldn't wait to graduate and get away from home and I wanted to do it my way. I know I was expected to go to college at my dad's alma mater and the school which my brother attended as well, but I chose otherwise and set out for the Great Southwest and Arizona. And while I enjoyed it there, I can remember admitting to myself that I still loved Old Newport News, my home that I grew up in, and dear Mom as well. Coming back later, she had sold her home and moved into a nice comfortable apartment bordering the Mariner's Museum Park and when visiting, we would remember those days and how fast they had gone by and how she loved me so. Mom never remarried, saying that Dad was the only love she ever wanted or needed and she devoted her life to turning us into decent citizens who were never on the dole. And that makes me smile with gratitude for what she instilled in all of us.
Mom has been dead now for sixteen years. I remember the day I got the call and, ironically, sadly and ironically, it was the same day I was already scheduled to go visit her from my home in Florida. Well, I saw her, but, of course, I missed seeing her alive but I did get closure although I think abouther often with a tear in my eye. But then I smile, for this rural girl born in a small North Carolina fishing Village on the Outer Banks, who went to New York City during the Great Depression to study at the preeminent Florence Nightingale approach to nursing school, Bellevue School of Nursing, had done her job and now was free of pain and home at last. It gave me joy knowing that I had been so privileged to have her as my mother. So, Mom, I know you are in great hands with Dad at your side, and I plan to see both of you again when it's my time. Y'all get ready, for we'll all be together one day. Happy Mother's Day, everyone, from a very fortunate man who knows he experienced the best of motherly love.