January 20, 2023- Mother never took a day off. She was never gone in the night. Dad was not so fortunate. He worked whatever shift he needed to, in order that we would have what we needed. When he was off work, he was with us. Mom, though, was never without us. I, the satellite, much of the time, wanting to make sure everything was okay when Dad was at work. I would invent my detailed stories, play 45 rpm records, even wrote a “newspaper”, for visitors to read and pretend to be impressed, by words describing things about which most of them could have cared less.
I was interested in “boy” things, like Lincoln logs, toy trucks and road equipment, playing with whoever came along, in our sandbox. I was clumsy, according to an older cousin because of the circumstances of my birth-I was very nearly breech. That impacted my hand-eye coordination, and athletic skills, even my balance. It would take me until near adulthood, before I could stay upright on a bicycle. It wasn’t until it came time to show my son how to play baseball, that I could even hit the darned thing. Maybe much of this was mind over matter, but it was a steep uphill.
I loved the woods and the marsh, though, and spent as much time as I could in either one-whether with other kids or alone. There was a nook, along a creek, where I would sit and think about life. One day, crews appeared, across the creek, and began building new homes, where the woods had been. I silently welcomed the people who would live across from my nook, and bid farewell to the little spot.
Before that, there were great woods in the first neighbourhood I remember, where we lived alongside an uncle aunt and three cousins. Grandma lived up the hill, and I would roam the woods with a neighbour boy and a couple of girls-playing pirates, or cowboys. When we moved into our own house, there were the woods I mentioned first, a hill with rock ledges, where I would sit and tell wild stories to anyone who would listen-even when they rolled their eyes. Sister and I would walk with Dad, after supper, in the summertime-and go see the horses at one or another of the ill-fated farms which became housing developments. Dad told me early on, that house building was an industry, and it would never go away. He even had a side hustle-paperhanging, which he taught me when I was ten.
Mom was always around for us, even when Dad had to work overtime-or graveyard. She’s still with us, having re-made her life, in a home with other women-and so thriving, at 94. I thought of all this, after reading of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the youngest person ever to hold that post. She is stepping down, deciding to focus on her child, after giving 5 1/2 years of her life to her country. A group of us had a brief discussion on the matter, this afternoon, and though I was the only male in the group, we were of one mind in stating that nurturance is of paramount importance to any child-and is most naturally provided by a mother.
It is the background of Mother’s “smotherly love” (her term) that made my own feelings towards women to be so strong. Her personal strength of character and perseverance contributed to my sense that every person’s dreams deserve a shot at success, and the support of anyone who claims to love that person.
I haven’t done everything she ever hoped for me to do, but I’m still in the game.