A Day To Thank All Mothers. Especially my own.

momIs it too much to ask, a day of thanks — in return for a lifetime of love?

I am a man.  I will never know the pain of childbirth.  My mother went through it five times!

She met my father at a Maryland College For Women dance in the fall of 1948. About 55 midshipmen were bused in for the dance from the Naval Academy.  He cut in on a Plebe and never let go of her.  They were married eight months later.

We all miss him; he logged out of the game in 2003 from natural causes after 54 years of marriage.  But my mother is still with us, still giving and caring. She never remarried.

He was a hard act to follow. She lives on, still strong, still driving her own car, still running the church library and its computer.

After my B.S. degree and some graduate school at FSU I moved North for many years.  Maybe I am an ungrateful jerk, but there were reasons we don’t need to go into here and now; maybe later. This is not about me. I have to keep remembering that. This is Mother’s Day.

Let me tell you a little about my mother.

When her first first son William was an infant, schools warned parents not to meddle in the business of education. She listened to them — at first — and soon discovered Bill was just not learning to read.  So she decided maybe the “experts” were not getting it right. My mother bought 3-by-5 index cards and even made flash cards from the sheets of cardboard inside store-bought shirts. When you have five sons you get a lot of those.

my brothersShe started teaching us English in earnest, buying Dr. Seuss books to read to us along with the flash cards she drilled us with. Her second son James had no problems with reading. My younger brother David learned reading early, watching over my shoulder as I learned. All of us can read. We read well. When I reached 9th grade I was tested and found to have a 14th grade reading level! Thanks, mom. No one ever gave me a greater gift than that.

And my brother Bill, who struggled at first?  Bill has a PhD now, in machine learning. He teaches and works at George Mason University.

Almost all of our extra instruction came from my mom. You see, my dad was out at sea a lot of the time, on aircraft carriers like the USS Enterprise, CVN-65.  (He became the Air Boss of it.)

It is not easy being a Navy mother of 5 boys. It can be hard to cope with such a brood of little hellions with Dad away at sea a lot when they are young. But she did more than cope. Sometimes she tells me she should have done better at it, when I disappoint her.

But I think she did just fine. More than fine. None of us went to prison. All of us attended college. Most of us did time in the Navy. We are all still alive, like her.

We all owe her our lives and the stable family environment she provided us and our father.

Thanks, mom. If anyone deserves a day set aside to remember the sacrifices they made and the love they gave, it’s you.

I hope you know we all love you.


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