Tomorrow is Mother’s Day but every day should be. It certainly is in my house. I live with one, am father to one and father-in-law to another. We’ve got a lot of mommas around our place and I love them all.
I would not make a very good mother. I don’t handle pain well and from what I am told, giving birth does involve considerable pain.
A few years back, I was required to have a series of biopsies in a part of my body better left to your imagination. My daughter-in-law, Jackie, mother of two and a nurse in the maternity unit at WellStar, called to check on me following the procedure. Glad to have a sympathetic audience, I described how rough the day had been for me and in my most whiny voice told her, “Jackie, you can’t imagine how painful it was.” Short pause. “Try having a baby,” she said. End of whine.
I was blessed with one of the world’s great mothers and her personality shows through today in my words and deeds. My mother believed in getting involved, whether it was her church, my school or a myriad of community organizations, including her beloved Eastern Star. Momma was not a bystander. She got into the arena.
Coming from Bartow County in the years before that area became gentrified, she was denied the opportunity for education beyond the seventh grade. It was the one part of her life she truly regretted and it drove her to educate herself. She read everything she could get her hands on — newspapers, magazines and books — especially books.
My mother not only read, she knew what she was reading and could converse with most any one on most any subject. One of my proudest moments came when I received an award at the University of Georgia and had her in Athens with me for the event. Even though she was getting on in years, she was very much at home with the academics in attendance at the function. One walked up to me later in the evening to tell me how much he had enjoyed his conversation with her and was curious to know from what college she had graduated. My mother’s education was complete.
Momma suffered fools poorly. She wasn’t afraid to let her opinions be known when she heard or saw something she didn’t like. Once, her church called a meeting to remove the minister because he had earned the enmity of the music director who had turned choir practices into Amway pep rallies. The minister had suggested he focus more on the music and less on shampoo products.
As in many large churches, music directors have a strong constituency and the minister was fighting for his job with angry church members who figured he could be replaced easier than a very talented music director.
The minister told me later that he was as good as gone until my mother stood up and took on the lynch mob. With righteous indignation, she changed the attitude of the crowd and the outcome. The minister stayed; the music director huffed off with his Amway products to another church. Momma wasn’t sure where he went and she really didn’t care. Right was right and he was wrong. End of story.
She was also tenacious. As she lay dying in the hospital, we were told by the nurse that we should say our last goodbyes. There were a number of machines and wires connected to my mother and she seemed to be comatose.
In a tearful state, my wife and I kissed her and told her we loved her. As we were leaving, Momma made a feeble gesture to the nurse standing nearby who leaned in to hear her whisper and then jump as though she had been shocked.
Out in the hall, I asked, “What was that all about?” The nurse said, “Your mother wanted to know what time the Braves game would be on television tonight!” She did live to see the game and passed away the next day. That was how she lived her life. On her terms.
I think of my mother every day and especially on Mother’s Day. I hope I have inherited the best of who she was. I hope you have such remembrances of your own mother and if she is still around, tell her you love her. Remember, mothers went to great pains to bring us here. Without them, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.