Maybe it’s because Valentine’s Day came and went. I can blame the outstanding Southern writer Rick Bragg, whose collections of writings (“My Southern Journey”) I am reading. Or perhaps it’s due to my age allowing perspective and observations that I simply couldn’t have made when I wore a younger man’s clothes.
For some reason, I’m really missing my mom. She’s been gone since 2009, and anyone would be correct in saying: “Get over it. Life goes on. Live for the present.”
But sometimes you just want to pick up the phone and say “remember the time?”
There has yet to be a prize of any consequence won by a family member. Not a Nobel. No Rhodes Scholarship. Brother Marty raising a Grand Champion steer at the 1982 Kern County Fair and the subsequent shattering of the old per pound record might count.
I have no idea how to win a writing award.
For my money, I’d rather get a note, text or call telling me how much they enjoyed a column, adding it made them think of … see, it’s a little bit of “remember when?”
It’s even fun when someone communicates “stuff it!”
Why, after the last NFL/Super Bowl bashing effort, I was even called “crotchety.” To pour Tabasco Sauce on the wound, it was a mom who said it.
OK, I’ll admit I was wrong about the Super Bowl. The NFL did what they should do: Play football without politics. I was wrong about Pink and the National Anthem. She was fantastic. But Justin Timberlake came through for me big time. He was awful.
Mom wouldn’t have liked the NFL skewering. She would have found the good in the bad.
“Just look at those kooky people in Philadelphia, breaking things and tipping over cars. Those police cars are heavy. They sure must be strong. I bet they’re on dope.”
Then we’d be off to the races with: “Remember Richard Alison’s dad? He was a policeman in L.A., not Philadelphia. He was big. I’ll bet no one ever tipped over his car. He was a Cub Scout leader. But your baby sitter, Grandma Balk, was from Philly. She was Jewish and owned a candy store. She loved you boys. When you’d come home from a baseball game and Matt and Marty would jump on you, she’d say: ‘Let him eat in peace.’”
I don’t remember getting many “Mike’s” from Mom. Whether it be recognition or a rebuke, it was always “Michael John.” The tone of her voice provided whether I was getting a thumbs up or thumbs down.
Never in the “Mom” game, even the nuns, some who would have given a copperhead a run for its money in the “ornery” department, could exhibit they had plenty of game with a first/middle/last name trifecta. Hearing that one let you know you hadn’t won anything other than the “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” award.
It was as if they were a collector and we schoolyard hooligans were way behind on the vigorish.
With high school baseball season in full swing, I marvel at the moms/grandmas in the stands. They appear immune to those freezing February temps. They are an amazing group. Fiercely loyal, they live and die with each play, especially when it involves one of their own.
A “what just happened there?” makes me smile and bring to light how special they are. Let’s face it, there is a certain charm in never having played the game accompanied by their collective quest thirst for insightful baseball knowledge.
It would be like me trying to make biscuits and wondering why they have a dirty sock taste.
These moms must shoulder some of the blame for me missing my mom. These ladies perform a plethora of tasks, making sure uniforms are clean (no easy task when faced with Georgia mud), distributing pre-game meals that fill players’ bellies and a laundry list of jobs that yes, includes laundry.
In case it’s viewed as being uncool to steal a glance at Mom, don’t be fooled. They do look. My mom tried to never miss when I was playing. I’d look for her in her white Thrifty Drug uniform, which wasn’t so white after she worked her shift dipping ice cream for a nickel a scoop. Picture a chocolate, pistachio, strawberry montage.
I see these combo cooks/counselor/comforters lining up to see their own after a game. Win or lose, they are there. Waiting.
Sure, they multi-tasked for seven innings. It takes special skill to talk decorating tips, recipes, rooms that resemble boars’ nests, while knowing the score.
You players take heed and do me a favor: After the game, win or lose, give your mom or grandma a hug and tell her thanks for coming.
Make hugging her a cool thing to do. I swear there will be a day when you wish you could.
Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. He wasn’t real sure about the meaning of “crotchety” surmising it had something to do with needles and yarn or something that should be treated by Gold Bond. He hopes this column got him back in the win column. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also on Facebook.