Mothers will check your ears to see if they are clean before you go to church. Every Sunday. Without fail. I’ve done a study on this. In all my many years of church gathering, not one pastor, Sunday School teacher, choir member, deacon, friend, foe, anyone in the congregation or someone just driving past the church EVER took the tiniest peek in my ear.

But you know what, if I could magically go back to one of those thrilling early Sunday mornings of yesteryear and explain the ear cleaning facts to Mom—she would smile politely, nod like she understood…..and then inspect both of my ears “just in case”…..

Mothers look out for you when you don’t even need it.

I was racing George Sexton down the graveled Como Road when I tripped making the turn in front of Aunt Jessie’s house. I slid headfirst past a corn crib, two chicken coops and an old International Harvester side loading hay baler.

I wailed my way back to the side porch, blood trickling from multiple points on my body. Mom brushed most of the tiny rocks out of my hands but she had to get the tweezers out for the imbedded shards in my knees.

She was talking so calm. And even. Like this just happened to little boys all the time. But as she dug deeper and deeper tears silently began to slip down her face. I thought, “What the heck!” I was the guy suffering here!

Mothers can cry at the most unexplainable times.

The worst summer days of my life were when Leon went off to work at the swimming pool. Daddy was half way to Tupelo with a load of hogs. David Mark had spent the night with the Melton boys.

Being alone was not the problem. But a day without baseball was! I’d bounce a tennis ball off the side of the house and pretend I was beating the Yankees all by myself in the ’55 World Series. But that’s just pretending.

Mom would come down the back steps, pulling off that old apron and slipping her hand into Leon’s beat up three-fingered glove. She threw with her elbow too close to her side and she couldn’t really put much heat on it, but she was trying with all her might. I wouldn’t fuss at her much. At least I had someone to pitch with…..

Mothers are always there as a last resort.

Dad could be pretty intimidating at times. He grew up during “Hoover Days” and he was still working hard to make sure we didn’t slide back into them in 1962. Since he was president emeritus of “old school”, he expected his work ethic and thriftiness to naturally pass down to his sons.

He wouldn’t budge when we asked for the Chevrolet to “cruise” out to Frank’s Dairy Bar. He counted it frivolous to back the car out of the driveway if you weren’t going for groceries, needed a few fence posts or had a shoat in the trunk.

Mom would walk right up close to his face and say, “Lonnie, these boys have worked all week. You can give them a little money and let them drive out to Frank’s. That’s not going to hurt a thing!”

Mothers are stronger than they look.

Jane Hill didn’t mince any words. She told me straight up she didn’t love me. My little sophomore heart was crushed. I moped around the house for almost eight minutes before Mom put me to work.

I cut wood. I swept out the attic. I washed out Mason jars while she cooked down the strawberries. I went to the store for hoop cheese. I went back because she needed more Gulf paraffin wax. I refinished the dining room chairs. I cleaned soot out of the chimney…. She kept me so busy I didn’t have time to dwell on Jane Hill.

Mothers are smarter than you think.

And here’s the greatest thing about mothers when you start in to talking about how they would look out for you, or whip some sense into you, or kiss a hurt and make it go away, or intercede with dad on your behalf, or show some smarts, or give you a little leash, or shed a tear over you, or stand her ground no matter how much you begged, or loved you like a long lost puppy……

They just always know when to do which!

 

Respectfully,

 

The Middle Child

Who Never Felt

Left Out