I am the youngest of seven children. I imagine when the first couple of kids were born, our parents paid pretty close attention. But by the time I came around, we were lucky to get a head count. During the summer, my days were mostly spent out and about in the neighborhood, frolicking where ever I could find anything else filled with frolic. My Mom used to say, “You kids go outside and get the stink blowed off you.”
So out we went. And stink, we did not.
Normally, the neighborhood was buzzing. There was always a game to play, or a kid who might be up for a good mud pie, or a race around the block. But there was one day that stands out in my mind. There was no one to play with. No siblings were around. The usual suspects in the hood were not to be found. I was living an episode of The Twilight Zone. This was hard on a seven year old.
I walked into house through the back screen door, and plopped down heavily at the kitchen table. As heavily as a scrawny kid could plop, any way. I must have had a serious case of the mopes, because Mom asked me what was wrong. “There’s no one to play catch with. I wanted to play ball and nobody’s around.”
At that moment, the Universe opened up and the magic came shining through into my seven year old world. My Mom said a phrase that I hadn’t heard before.
“I’ll play catch with you.”
What? Hold on just a little minute. My Mom play catch? This was a first. I ran down the basement and got my mitt and ball. Mom said she needed a glove too. The only one left on the shelf was my Dad’s. The problem there was that Dad was a lefty. But I grabbed his old mitt anyhow.
We went out in the backyard, and Mom put that glove on the wrong hand. Backwards. Just so she could toss with me.
And then we tossed. It was one of the happiest moments of my childhood, out there, on our little patch of backyard grass, playing catch with my Mom. I can’t remember how long we stayed there. But it was exactly long enough.
And that is love.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mom’s out there.
“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.” —George Eliot
“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.” —Dorothy Canfield Fisher
“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” —Jill Churchill