Unfortunately, not everyone is thankful for mom
(Editor’s note: I received such positive feedback that, one year later, some of this column is the same. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent – which was never me).
I was a 24-year-old sports editor of the Santa Maria Times, my dream job, so to speak.
I had done my senior internship there before graduating from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
I was handed the job based on two recommendations.
I had taken a list of my works to that job interview and I remember the boss saying when he didn’t care about those articles already published, “I don’t care what you have done. I care what you are going to do.”
I had been on the job all of about three months.
I called my mother and wished her a Happy Mother’s Day 28 years ago.
After talking to her for a bit, my Aunt Sandy, my mother’s sister-in-law, got on the phone and told me to get home and do so quickly.
My mother had cancer and was preparing to die.
Of course, that wasn’t the same mother who, four months earlier, told me she was OK.
I had been offered the job and was preparing to turn it down because of her health.
“I’m doing fine,” she said. “I’ll be OK. You take the job.”
Anyway, I walked into the hospital room and my mother looked terrible because that’s what cancer does to you.
My aunt told me it was the best she had looked in a while.
My mother lasted a few more days and, about 4 a.m. with only my sister and I in the hospital room, my mother took her last breath.
She was 46.
My mom and I were really close.
Sis and I lived with her after our parents were divorced because my father was an alcoholic.
My mother went to all of our games.
She laughed with us and disciplined us.
She also laughed at us.
My mom was tough.
She let me have my rope, just enough to play with or hang myself because of my stupidity.
She never allowed excuses. She didn’t want to hear them and never cared to listen.
My mother was there to call my bluff, show me the correct path and make sure I called her if I was going to miss curfew.
My mother made sure I was respectful.
My mother never talked to coaches about playing time, or lack thereof.
My mother never talked to coaches about their philosophies.
My mother never talked to coaches about how hard they were working us.
And, if I came home and complained about any of those things, she wanted no part of the conversation.
She told me it was my choice to play and my choice to work hard or not and the more I worked the more I would play.
My mother never talked to teachers about my grades.
They were my grades, not hers.
I miss my mom.
I miss that she missed out on four grandchildren – three great boys and a precious girl.
I knew my mother was a strong woman, but I never really knew how strong until I had multiple conversations with other people about my father and his alcohol problems.
My mother did not miss a football game, basketball game or track meet.
She was always there.
She often sat on the other side during football games because she refused to listen to parents.
For some reason, she thought it was OK to hear that from the other teams parents because she did not know any of those players and didn’t take it personally.
One Friday night, I caught a pass, turned up the sideline and went 78 yards for six points.
My mother, on the other side, jumped up and screamed for me.
People looked at her like she was nuts.
“That’s my son,” she said and nothing else was said.
When I chose to show a basketball official that he was No. 1 toward the end of a game because he whistled me for my fifth personal foul, my mother got home and blistered me and did so rather well.
When my father blistered me years before that, it was always with a belt and those marks eventually went away.
This time, my mother blistered me with her words and they still resonate with me.
Words are powerful weapons.
My mother was mad for what I did.
But, what bothered her was something that was said in the gymnasium as I was leaving the place.
Two men sitting in front of my mom made some sort of comment on how I was raised.
They didn’t know the lady behind them, who could hear their conversation, was my mother, and the one who did the raising.
“I could handle what you did,” she said. “I couldn’t handle what they said.”
Yep, I still remember the conversation 35 years later.
Since I know how much my mom loved to laugh, it makes it harder knowing she missed a lot of laughs with her three grandsons and granddaughter.
My wife missed commiserating with her mother-in-law while looking at me and asking, “Was he always like this?”
My wife, also a great mother, had no idea the elevator ride she was about to partake in when she said “Yes” and “I do.”
We have gone from the basement to the penthouse a number of times with many stops between the destinations.
My wife shakes her head at what I do or what comes out of my mouth and I know wishes she could look at my mother and ask that same question again and again – “Was he always like this?”
My mom had a wonderful heart and that’s what I will remember.
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be reached at email@example.com)