NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is another one of those stories I wrote for my kids based on a request from my daughter, Samantha Nix, with her 2020 Christmas Gift to me – a subscription to Story Worth. Please enjoy even if you are not in the family and don’t know my mom.
My mom, Your Grandma, was so precious to me as a child. She was first of all My Mama. There could be no other Mama for me. It is interesting that you ask this question because I had to look up how to spell Mama. Google tells me it is Mama – though many spell it Momma. Anyhow, just to get a little political here … look at something else I found in doing my research on Mama.
I guess the reason I call her Mom now is because I’ve grown up to be a republican, LOL – thought you’d find that funny. Especially since you call your mom … Momma or Mama!
Enough of the politics … let’s get back to my Mom … but you know I could not let that pass.
My Mom (for me as a young child)
From my earliest memory Mom was always my comforter and one of my best friends. As I told you in a previous letter/story, I grew up rather Introverted. I did not like a lot of people being around me … but I loved my mom to be there all the time. To me she was the most beautiful creature that walked this earth and I still thank God for her daily. To me she was a goddess.
My siblings, Ed and Sandi always called me a Momma’s boy. I was constantly with her. Perhaps I was in my younger years though I did rebel against her in my teenage years as most teenagers do.
If I remember correctly, the first real spanking I got from Mom was when I was four or five years old. My brother, Ed, was about 3 or 4. Don’t know the exact ages. We lived in an old run-down shack on Canal Banks Road in the Argo, Illinois area. It was winter time and Ed and I got a cold and had to stay in. Mom and Dad had to work and Sandi was in school (probably 1st or 2nd Grade). Our bathroom was an outdoor John and it was too cold in the winter time to trapes outdoors to use the bathroom so we had Large five gallon cans in our bedroom to use.
Mom left Ed and I home alone and told us to stay in bed. We didn’t though. We were kids. Mom had a reem of typing paper that she would use to type things up for the church or take notes on. Ed and I found the paper and decided to get into a paper airplane war. It was a new reem of paper so there were about 500 sheets of paper. We used all of it for our paper airplanes. We ran around the house, cold be damned, and made a mess. One of us tripped over the pee can by our bunk bed and pee was all over the floor – but we didn’t care.
When mom and dad got home from work there was paper airplanes and pee all over the house. Since I was the oldest her frustration was taken out on me and I was the one who got the whipping. Ed, only got yelled at.
I always thought my mom loved my brother more than me … perhaps because he was her baby boy. Of course, I was that until the day he was born. Maybe I stuck so close to her due to jealousy, I just don’t know … but I do know I stuck close to her as an adolescent.
Mom tells me that when I was really small (around 2 years old) I almost died. I had some kind of abdominal problem. She said my stomach collapsed but I just don’t see how that could happen. However, I do know that I had a lot of stomach aches as a young child.
Once I got into school (like 1st through 4th grade) I would often fake a stomach ache so that I could stay home from school with Mama. I did not realize this also made her have to stay home from work (after the incident on Canal Banks Road) which cost the family money. I just knew I’d rather be home with Mama than to be at school with people I didn’t think liked me anyhow.
One day in the 4th grade mom put a quick stop to this. I think she got this idea from Maw (her Mom). Rather than giving me Pepto Bismol, which I liked, she gave me Castor Oil. This is some of the nastiest stuff I’ve ever had put in my mouth. It is not only used for dry skin, as a message oil or to beautify the hair … it is an excellent laxative. Believe me when I say … that cured my Belly Aches … at least my fake ones.
Along about the 6th grade … when I got interested in playing the trumpet, it was my mom who convinced my dad to spend $25 on an old Salvation Army Nickel-Plated beat-up horn for me to learn on. It was also her that managed to find some inexpensive lessons (about $15 per lesson) at the Chicago Boy’s Club with a man by the name of John Sovineck.
And, yes, it was my Mom who forced me to practice no less than one hour and usually at least two hours every day come hell or highwater. I began to hate her for that. I’d rather be out playing baseball or something … but NO … I had to practice and by the time I got done practicing and doing home work from school it was getting dark.
It was mom who convinced dad after my first year of lessons to upgrade my trumpet to a $165 Conn Director; the same horn I have to this day and used while in the US Army 2nd Division Band after my stent in Vietnam.
While I no longer play the trumpet, I do thank mom for making me do so growing up. It taught me more than just playing the horn; it taught me music which led to my singing and learning to strum the guitar.
My Mom (when I was a teenager)
As I grew into my teenage years my relationship with my mom began to grow distant. I know longer really wanted to hang around her. As a young kid if she was going to the store – I wanted to go. As a teenager, and when I began to gain a little self-confidence and have some friends – I really did not want to be around her that much. Not that I didn’t love her … I did. However, I was quite rebellious and could do without being around her all the time.
Mom, unlike me, was always very outgoing. She never met a stranger. As a rebellious teen I did not see her as simply being outgoing when she would talk to another male. I saw her as being flirtatious and that always upset me. My dad was at home tinkering with something (or at work making a living) and my mom was out there flirting with every man in the neighborhood – or at least that is what I secretly thought in my own mixed-up head.
I remember one time in particular growing up in Sterling Estates Trailer Park. Mom was on a rampage because of the friends me and my brother had. She did not approve of them and knew they were going to get us into trouble (which they did) but to me that had no bearing on it.
She went into mine and my brothers’ room (we almost always had to share a room till my sister got married and moved out). She picked up my brother’s coat and found a partial pack of cigarettes in it. I think there were like 3 left in the pack. She brought them to the kitchen and said to my dad, “Gene, look what I found in Eddie’s coat pocket.”
I thought to myself, “Damn, I hope she didn’t check mine.”
Next thing my dad did was take one of the cigarettes out of the pack and tell my brother he had to smoke it in the next one minute. Ed, lit that thing up and smoked the hell out of it. He was completely done in about 45 seconds. The red ash on the cigarette was about as long as the cigarette when he finished. Dad had no idea this did not affect Eddie since this is the way we all smoked them in the school bathroom between classes. It was called “Hot Boxing” at the time. Dad through the rest of his cigarettes (all two of them) in the garbage.
Then Eddie said, “I’m gonna go outside for some air, want to go Dwight?” Yes, unfortunately that is the name I went by as I was growing up. Never liked that name and made sure it was not used later in the military.
I agreed to go outside with Ed and grabbed our coats (it was winter time). We went out behind the trailer and Ed said, “Give me a fag (that’s what we called them) so I can smoke one in peace.” I grabbed my pack of Marlboro’s out of my pocket and we lit em’ up!
I always wondered why Mom narced on Ed and not me. Did she not find my full pack in my coat pocket? Was she so furious after finding his that she did not check for mine? Why was she going through our private stuff anyhow? She had no business to spy on us – or at least that is what I thought then.
Oh, I’m sure she had her faults as all Mom’s do … but she also had her good points that I learned in later years.
My mom was always a very strong woman. I am certain things would upset her to tears but she would rarely, if ever, cry in front of her kids. She was quick to anger but just as quick to calm down and show her love for us.
My Mom (during my military years and later)
Mom was against me joining the Army when I went down on my 18th birthday to sign up for the draft. I know that because I tried to sign up at age 17; and while Dad would have signed for me to do that, it took both parents signatures at the time, and mom refused. Perhaps out of resentment is why I decided to sign up on my own at age 18.
Even though Mom was against my decision to enlist … she did respect it, and I think grew to respect me more for doing so.
The one thing I always looked for from mom when I was in the military (domestically and while overseas) was her letters and her “care” packages. Dad would write almost as often as mom … but his letters were never more than a half page long and in hard to read handwriting. Mom’s, on the other hand, were always several pages long and in beautiful handwriting.
As for the “care” packages … not only did I appreciate and look forward to them … but so did all my Army Buddies wherever I happened to be stationed at. Mom would always fill them with homemade goodies (candy, cookies and cake) as well as some canned goods that had a longer shelf life. Her sweets would never last more than an hour or two and I would write and request more. She made some of the best Fudge Candy and Peanut Butter Fudge in the world. Perhaps that is why I am so fat today – though in the Army I was skinny as a bean pole.
I said earlier she was a strong woman. I was sent home from Vietnam on Emergency Leave because Mom had to have Gall Bladder surgery and the doctors thought her heart may be too weak to survive it. Back then Gall Bladder surgery was not Laparoscopic surgery. It was major (“I’m gonna cut you from throat to belly button surgery”). I got home and she handed me a farewell letter like she had given to others in the family and I laughed and told her I did not come home to watch her die but rather to “Party Hardy.” She was strong enough to survive the surgery that took place 51 years ago this year.
It was Mom who sent me the $2,000 I needed to get my girlfriend home from Vietnam. Of course, I did tell her that Lê was my wife then and not simply a girlfriend. Yea, dad was part of this, but I am sure it took Mom’s convincing.
It was Mom who took my $1,500 from the bank account that I’d accumulated while in Vietnam and went out to purchase me a maroon 1971 Mustang that I’d requested to be waiting for me when I got home. And it was Mom who met me at the airport with it when I got home.
It was Mom who assisted my new fiancé with our wedding plans and the cost of the wedding (though we have paid back every penny). Samantha, during the early years when your Mama and I would have communication problems and disagreements it was my Mom that would talk me down from my anger and help to keep our marriage together. Dad would pray and Mom would rationalize.
Later it was Mom who congratulated me for leaving the Railroad and a guaranteed income to try to go into business for myself as a financial advisor all while dad was telling me I was making a big mistake. It was mom who wanted to become a client of mine before anyone else would … though I would not let her until I’d worked at least a year to prove myself.
When they lived close by, and they did not always live near us, it was Mom who would be there to babysit our kids when your Mama and I wanted to go out of town or on a date.
Mom in her late years of life …
I told you my mom was strong. In 1999 my dad died and mom was able to make all his funeral arrangements without shedding a tear publicly. Sure, I am certain she mourned his passing but she decided early on she still had a life to live and she was going to live it as best she could. There is a statistic that says “On Average” when one spouse dies the other dies within three years.
My mom, your grandma, has beat those averages severely. She recently turned 89 and was only about 68 (two years younger than me now) when dad died. Thus, she’s lived 21 years without him – and still going strong.
Mom stays in Independent living at Riggs Manor in Raymond, MS. now and has been very much isolated since March 2020 due to the Coronavirus. This is something that would drive younger people, like you and even me, crazy as hell. But Mom seems to take each day in stride. Soon, hopefully with the vaccine’s for Coronavirus she will be able to get out again and go places other than to the doctor and we will be able to have her at our house again weekly for Saturday night dinner. I long for those days.
Being 70 years of age, I realize that both Mom and I have fewer days in front of us than we have behind us but I will love her till the day I die or she dies (whichever comes first) and beyond. After all, she is my mom, and the best mom that anyone could ever ask for.
Foot note to readers …
Several months have passed since I first wrote this and the Coronavirus Shut Down is just about in the history books. Mom is still alive and doing well. We have her over for dinner and a movie almost every Saturday Night and I think she looks as much forward to coming here during the week as we look forward to having her here.