Today is Mother's Day, and while there are many memories, there's a longing in my heart, even though it's been five years since my mom passed away at the age of 93.
Mom was a tiny woman, only 4'11 3/4" at her tallest, and of course as she aged she became somewhat smaller. But she was strong, courageous, and she loved her kids -- all four of us. And she always insisted she was five feet tall.
Her life wasn't easy. I was born during World War II -- not sure how that happened since my father was in the Army and in Japan. I must have been a going away present. Anyway, after he came home, he went to college to study to be a minister, and we then bounced around from Pennsylvania, to western New York, to Illinois and back to New York.
It was there, in a little farming community near Jamestown, that my friends and I used a frozen frog as a hockey puck.
That was before Dad rejoined the Army as a chaplain and we moved to Fort Dix, NJ, where Mom had to transition from preacher's wife to Army wife and that was no small task -- especially since our family had expanded as my brother and two sisters had come along. Then it was off to France, and after a couple years, back to Pennsylvania.
All the while, she managed all of those challenging roles. But her most important, far more important than that of the base chaplain's wife with all of those responsibilities, was that of Mother to the four of us.
Did I ever hear, "Hey Bob, pick up your socks!" or "Hey Bob, why do you smell like a skunk?" Of course, I did. Did she ever show impatience, or even anger at something I did? Of course. I was in trouble a lot, but it was my own doing. I know I tried her patience, as did my brother, Dave, who is two years younger than me. Of course, our two sisters, Beth and Pam, were just perfect.
In fact, the reason I smelled like a skunk that day in the farm country of northwestern Illinois was because David and I decided to shoot a skunk trapped in the bottom of a silo pit with our bee bee guns. Of course, the skunk was not happy and when we went home, we reeked. So yes, Mom was not pleased.
But beyond that, what she did show every day was love and pride for her family, her children. That was far more important to her than attending officers receptions with Dad or hosting teas for the officers' wives, or any of the other military nonsense she had to put up with. We four kids were her sun, moon and stars, all rolled up into one -- and that continued even as we became adults and went our separate ways.
Even then, she supported us, through our ups and downs, the birth of our kids and their progress, and even through divorces and other challenges that came our way.
Now that she's been gone these five years, I still reach for the phone every once in a while to call her and tell her something that's occurred. But then, I remember.
Still, in my mind, I hear her voice.
"Oh Bob," she would say. "What have you done now?"
Yes, I wish I could pick up the phone and call her on this special day. I wish I could send her her favorite flowers. Or maybe, even hop on a plane and pay her a visit.
I hope you can do that for, and with, your mom. And I hope you can do it for a long time.
OK, Mom, I'll go pick up my socks.