On this special day when we honor all the mothers out there, I thought I would share with you some memories of my mother. As for the title of this column, you may question the award as you might have another choice, but I'm not buying it. My mother was the best and it is nice that I have a forum to say so.
I grew up in Attica in the 1950s and '60s. Not necessarily a typical kid, I had braces on my legs until I was 5 and there were concerns as to whether I would actually ever be able to walk. Once I found out that I could not only walk, but run like all the other kids in the neighborhood, there was no let up.
Of course that led to a few mishaps, but there was mom to clean up, bandage up and send me back out for more. Sports became a major part of my life and I had a mother that understood my desire to be constantly playing some kind of ball as she, too, was an athlete.
Born in West Chester, Pa., mom played field hockey in high school and became an accomplished bowler. Her family were Philadelphia Phillies fans, but once dad brought her to Ohio she quickly became an Indians fan. I spent many a night listening to Tribe games on the radio while sitting alongside my mother.
One of my most vivid childhood memories was playing basketball in the living room. Yes, you did read that correctly. We had high ceilings and my brother and I knocked holes in the plaster of a corner in the room. We inserted a couple of wooden pieces in the holes and fastened the top of a metal trash can on them for a rim. A cheap little 79-cent net and - voila - a basketball hoop.
We would move the furniture to the side of the room and play. Mom, who was a notary public, would be sitting in a corner typing up some kind of legal document. Sometimes long rebounds would strike the typewriter causing mistakes. Nary a peep from mom, though. She would correct it and we kept playing.
I also remember taking advantage of mom's good nature. After supper she would be doing the dishes and call for me to take out the garbage (this was before Mr. Obvious and the critter under the sink). I would say "in a minute" and eventually there would be a second request. This time I would say something like "I'll be right there" knowing that if I didn't show up soon she would just take it out herself.
I used to feel bad about that little trick, but then I got to thinking that she managed to get even. She would frequently say to me while we were watching TV, "Alan, you're younger than I am, would you please change the channel?" It should be noted that remote control devices had not yet been invented, but then again there were only three channels to choose from so it was not a lot of work.
It still bugged me though as I had to get up and walk over to the TV, and I was always going to be younger than her. I imagine she was sitting there thinking, "So, you won't take out the garbage "
When it came time to support my athletic endeavors, mom was literally the best. I'm not sure I fully appreciated her dedication; at least I didn't until one late August evening in 1969. The moment took place at the American Legion post in Tiffin.
I had played two summers for the Tiffin American Legion baseball team. I played alongside the likes of Chuck Heater, Joe Lonsway, Joel Wood and several players who soon became friends and later colleagues from New Riegel including Charlie Reinbolt, Paul Gnepper, Steve Lucius and Steve Bouillon. We were coached by Amos Cook and Bill Stanley and played nearly 100 games over those two summers.
At the banquet coach Cook gave a little speech stating that he wanted to recognize three people who had missed only one game the past two years. He asked me to stand up which was my first inclination that I was involved. Then he asked my parents to stand. I hadn't realized that they were there each and every game that I played. Talk about support.
My mother loved going to those games. She would keep a box score in a little notebook. Always upbeat and positive, she would encourage each of us to "get a little bingo" as we approached the plate. She would have welcomed a home run, but she knew the game would likely be won by stringing together a few singles. She was the epitome of a fan.
I also remember coming home after high school basketball games. My parents would begin each post-game conversation by congratulating me. It didn't matter whether the team won or lost and it really didn't matter whether I played well or poorly, they were simply saying nice job on the effort. We would then rehash the game. There would be no second guessing coaching decisions and no berating of the referees. I learned a lot about good sportsmanship listening to mom and dad after those games.
I was very fortunate to have such a great mother. She was awesome and I don't know if I told her how much I appreciated her often enough. She has been gone nearly 40 years now and I will never again have the opportunity to tell her what she has meant to me. Many of you do have that chance.
Call or visit your mother today. Let her know how much you love her. Even though my name is on the byline above, all of you could write a similar story. Let your mother know how you feel.
As for me, you now have an idea why I think my mother was the best in the world. The only other person who could compete for the title would be the mother of my children.
I have been doubly blessed.
Al Stephenson is The Advertiser-Tribune's bowling columnist.
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