By Mark Carpenter –
Why does it seem for a male writer so much more difficult to write about his Mom than his Dad? I have written columns for Father’s Day before but this is my first attempt at doing the same for Mother’s Day. But something tells me I will manage.
Most of you who read this don’t know my parents, only from what you read here. Let me clue you in a bit, they are 83 and 82 years old, they still live in a historic home overlooking Ripley (which is far too big for them), they just recently retired or quit working, whichever you want to call it, and they are still going strong, despite all of the aches and pains that come with being 83 and 82 years old, or the fact that their two sons have made them crazy.
I have written here about the many sports memories involving my Dad, but never seemed to mention my Mom. That is a big omission, because wherever Dad was with me at a sporting event, Mom was right there too. She was the one getting thrown out of the gym at Pee-Wee basketball games, or yelling at the officials during my coaching days, and then running everywhere with us when our own kids played.
They say opposites attract and for my parents, they have attracted for 63 years of marriage. My Dad is the laid-back reserved kind, rarely losing his temper, though he once cussed out a school superintendent, which I would have paid to see. My Mom, on the other hand, is not one to mince words-she will tell it as it is, and if it involves her children or grandchildren, “Katie bar the door.” They say that a man marries someone like his own mother, well I can vouch for that. I promise you that you don’t want to mess with my wife either, especially if it involves our kids.
Driving to work early on Monday morning, I was trying to think of all the things I remembered about my Mom to write about. I could write about her teaching me to drive, that involved me sitting on her lap in the driver’s seat, but I can’t remember whether that was before or after I backed into my grandmother’s car. I can write about the bologna sandwiches which were always ready for my lunch or the dinners precisely at 4:30 every day when Dad got home from work. Of course, Mom worked too as his secretary for part of the day and then did her part on the assembly line. I should mention that for more than half a century my family was in the shoe business, making baby shoes that were shipped at one time all over the world.
Mom would spend about half a day in that hot factory, dragging us kids there with her in the summers, then come home and roll into housewife mode, with that dinner always ready.
I should probably mention perhaps the best thing that my mother ever did-she didn’t throw away my baseball cards! I came home from college to find them all still under my bed, kind of waiting there for me. Actually, my Mom doesn’t throw away anything, as witnessed by the fact that she still has copies of every column I have ever written, enforcing my belief that at least one person reads them. In fact, she has an enormous collection of newspapers from every historical event in our lifetimes, something I assume I will inherit someday when I find somewhere to store them, knowing my affection for history.
A tinge of sadness surrounded me this weekend when my parents opened their garage to sell a lot of their antiques, old furniture, vintage shoe equipment, and lots more old stuff. Of course, I took a few items home for myself, including my grandfather’s baseball uniform from the 1940’s, which is extremely special for me. And there was no way they were going to sell a book signed by Uncle Al and Captain Windy. Remember them? Their garage still holds my collection of RC Cola cans with the football and baseball players on the sides, though I believe they would have sold it if anyone had made them an offer.
Still most of the fond memories of my Mom revolve around food, because man, can she cook, and she does for nearly every occasion. How can one ever forget special birthday dinners where you get to pick the menu? (That still goes on by the way, even at my age). Her chocolate cakes and peanut bars are legends in our circle of family and friends, and even beyond. Give me a spoon and a bowl of her goulash and I am set. (Hopefully reading this will bring her a goulash inspiration).
Mother’s Day is Sunday and for those of you my age who are fortunate enough to still have your Mom, be thankful on Sunday and every other day of the year. I am lucky to have a wonderful, loving Mom who raised me and another wonderful Mom who lives in the same house with me. (We do run into each other occasionally, as Barry Manilow would call us, “ships that pass in the night”). Bet you never thought the Sports page would get a Manilow mention.
Let me leave you with one thought, there is nothing better than getting a call on Sunday afternoon and hearing your Mom on the other end, saying, “Do you want food?” I am on my way! Happy Mother’s Day Mom-this one’s for you! (Manilow again.)