For The Love Of Mom


Tank’s mom holding his daughter, Samantha.

Everyone thinks their mom is the best and they’re all right. I’m no exception. I had a wonderful mom. Since we recently celebrated Mother’s Day, I figured I’d write about my mom. Looking back, she influenced me more than any other person, and for that, I’m grateful.

I was born late in December and was sent to kindergarten when I was four years old. This coincidently was around the same time I learned how to whistle, following mom around house, whistling behind her as she worked. What followed was the start of a wonderful tradition that went on for years.

The Farm

Finishing kindergarten, mom took me for a buzz haircut, followed by a shopping trip to JCPenney for bulk packs of white underwear, T-shirts and three pairs of Wrangler jeans. Then, it was off to the shoe department for a new pair of cowboy boots. Mom was preparing me for a week at my grandparents’ dairy farm. Every year, throughout elementary school, it was the same. Summer vacation started at the farm.

I loved the farm! Growing up in the suburbs, the farm was full of adventure. My two uncles still lived on the farm, helping pap run it. It exposed me to many things I learned to love with all my heart. Life on the farm involved everyone pulling their weight. I was quickly assigned trash duty by grandma, but even taking the trash out was adventure for a now 5-year-old. We had burn barrels and after taking the trash out, you burned it. What 5-year-old doesn’t like burning things, especially using wooden strike anywhere matches?

The same matches were later used as reactionary targets for my BB gun. If you hit the white head, you lit the match. It didn’t happen often, but I managed to do it a few times. Mostly I snapped the matchsticks in two

A Monkey’s Uncle

Being on the farm let me pal around my uncles while they worked. I was basically the “gopher” sent down to the house for lemonade, food, or water while my uncles bailed hay or fed the cows. I was given the job of manure scrapper, too! It was my job to keep the aisles clear of cow manure, pushing it into the gutter where it would eventually wind up in the manure spreader. I can remember trying to lift bales of hay to bring to my uncles. I had to drag them at first, but over the years was strong enough to toss them.


After the afternoon milking and dinner, it would cool down and we’d go groundhog hunting. These pesky vermin eat over 50 pounds of alfalfa a summer each, as well as making ankle breaking holes for the cows. They are a nuisance. Being June, hunting was best after first cut of the alfalfa, making the rodents easier to see.

Known as whistle pigs by the gentle call they make to locate one another, we’d make a low whistle and look for any curious groundhog to perch up looking for the source. Since I already knew how to whistle, I got to do it while my one of my uncles shot them. It wasn’t until I was 7 that I got to shoot my first whistle pig with the Remington .22 kept behind the milking parlor door.

I got my first .22 for my eighth birthday. Now when I went to farm, I would roam the fields myself, learning the lay of land, hunting groundhogs. The farm dog, Pupper, a black shepherd mix, with brown eyebrows, was my faithful companion. We were successful in our adventures, deepening my love for wandering on my own, hunting and just enjoying nature.

Here’s mom playing around with my motor helmet on a long ago Mother’s Day.

Grateful Memories

The summer trips to the farm gave me a deep love for it, nature, my uncles and grandparents. I don’t know if mom planned this, or not, but it sure influenced me. Since my pap and uncles were die-hard deer hunters, it was only natural I’d follow in their footsteps. My pap also hunted caribou several times in Canada, while my uncles would venture out west.

Other Mom Lessons

Mom taught me to cook at an early age. Being a great cook herself was natural, as her mom was a wonderful cook. I was making hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches by second grade, soon followed by hamburgers. If I wanted something, mom would show me how to do it once, then say, “you know how” when I’d ask for something. She believed in people being independent, and I couldn’t agree more.

Hard Worker

Mom worked at a chain grocery store for 37 years. She worked six days a week to support us three kids. Near the end of her career, I received a call from her at work. She told me she fell and needed to go to the doctors. I was working and immediately headed to her store in my police cruiser.

When I got there, mom was standing behind the florist counter, making corsages. I figured she couldn’t be hurt that bad. X-rays revealed a broken wrist, cracked kneecap and broken tibia. Mom slipped on the wet floor carrying a bucket of water and tried to catch herself.

A few years later mom retired. While getting her mail one evening, she slipped on black ice, breaking her pelvis. It wasn’t until five weeks later we learned she cracked five vertebrae in her lower back, too. That’s when we learned she had Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer. Mom gave it a tough fight, eventually succumbing to the disease.

I spent the afternoon telling mom how much I loved her, that no boy could have a better mom than I did. Bending down to kiss her goodbye, mom used all her strength to sit up, hugging me back. Mom died during the wee hours the next morning. No boy had a better mom and I’m grateful for mine.

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