May 11, 1986
The nuns who taught us in the grade school saw to it that we learned early and well the importance of Mother’s Day. Like we always did at Christmas and Easter, we hauled out the crayons and drew a special card for mom.
We spent so much time with the crayons, doing those cards, that it’s a wonder we learned to read and write and do our ciphering. But we did, and the cards were, in our minds, works of art.
I remember sister Mary Chrysostom best. She was my teacher in the 4th or 5th grade. She would draw a sample card on the blackboard and we would copy it as best we could.
She would come around and help the less gifted, and that’s one of the reasons I liked her. She spent a lot of time with me, so my card always came out looking pretty good.
The cover would have maybe a hill or two, some birds, a tree and a flower, and above it or below it or across it would be the word, “mother.” I was best at drawing hills and the sun. I was fair with the birds, terrible with trees and flowers.
Inside were two things. One was the message, expressing our love for mom. The other was called a “spiritual bouquet.” It was a list of prayers we had offered – or we were promising to offer – in mom’s behalf.
Even way back then I was into deficits. I’m afraid I padded my bouquet.
We would fasten these crayon-covered sheets together with colored string, or brass paper fasteners and then, at the proper time, present the card to mom.
She would express genuine pleasure at the total effort, an equally genuine surprise at the numbers button being promised. She never said anything, but I probably wasn’t fooling her.
I probably never did fool her. I know I didn’t the day a couple of other foolhardy adventurers and I skipped school to go downtown and hang out for awhile, and then go to a special high-noon baseball shootout between the Oklahoma City Indians and the Tulsa Oilers.
What I didn’t know was that five minutes after I left home that morning the school called and said classes were canceled for the day for some reason or other.
So, when i got home that afternoon, she asked me where I had been. I told her I had been at school, of course.
Oh, she said. And how was school?
I was prepared for this. I started telling her in great detail what happened at school that day. Suddenly, the look she gave me stopped me in mid sentence.
I didn’t know how or why it it happened, but I knew that that instant I was trapped. And she probably realized that same instant that she was raising a newspaperman.
Neither did I fool her the Saturday I told her I couldn’t stay home and work because I had to go to the library and study. I left, picked up a friend, and we shot pool for awhile before going to see the four-hour movie, “Gone with the Wind.”
At intermission, the lights the house lights were turned on. After awhile, I turned around and there were my two aunts, sitting right behind me. They smiled. I looked around like a cornered criminal .
“Yes,” one of my aunts said. “Your mother’s with us. She just went to the bathroom. We saw you when we came in.”
My dad and I together certainly never fooled her. His friend, Louis Martin, made moonshine, and my dad usually kept a fruit jar full of it in the garage. The two of us occasionally would sample it.
Then we’d go into the house with our hair standing straight up and think she didn’t know what we’d been doing.
She surprised me sometimes. She left church early one Sunday because she remembered that she had left something on the stove. I would have bet you she’d let the house burned down before she’d leaves church early.
it’s funny what you remember most about your mom. There are many things, but one of my recollections is her telling her all-time favorite story. It involved Mrs. Hadley, the lady who sold eggs and vegetables door to door.
Mom and Mrs Hadley became good friends. One day, Mrs Hadley announced her daughter had had a baby girl. Mom asked if they had named her .
“Yes,” said Mrs Hadley. “They named her Halad.”
“Halad?” Mom asked. “Isn’t that an unusual name?”
“Not at all,” said Mrs Hadley. “It’s from the Lord’s Prayer – ‘Halad be thy name.’”