By: Ron Wilkie
They say that every day is Mother’s Day. Those of us who ventured to live far from the nest are frequently reminded to “call your mother.” When TV cameras stop in front of athletes for a reaction they frequently say “hi mom!” When there is significant news both good and bad I call mom to tell her.
There is little wonder why for me. Mom’s face was most likely the first face I saw as a newborn baby. She was a steady stay at home mom until I was in Junior High School. Mom was in my life more hours than any other person I knew.
Even after going back to work, her office was just a few blocks from school, I could stop there after classes for any number of reasons. Snack money for the Dime Store cafe. A ride home when I didn’t want to walk. A place to hang out on the rare snow day.
Mom’s worry. They want and expect us to check in. Especially with boys, we were risk takers. Jumping out of trees and off low roof top buildings like sheds. Building tree houses, go carts, seasonal out door sports.
Mom was always checking in on us when we were playing, many of our activities had some danger involved. We didn’t think about the danger, we didn’t think we were in danger at all.
For us, tree houses and tackle football without pads and without helmets and riding go carts and minibikes was just fun. Only mom saw the danger and she silently watched between daily chores and worried while we played.
Growing up Wilkie meant all of my friends were welcome any time of day or night. It was the same with my friends mom’s too. We made the neighborhood rounds usually based upon what was stocked in the refrigerator or pantry.
Mom always had food ready for a visitor. For that matter, she still does. Dad worked at the Hormel factory in town so we always had hotdogs, ham and SPAM. I never cared much for SPAM but that’s a story for another day.
We had a large vegetable garden, so in the summer there were fresh vegetables. Carrots, radishes, beans, peas, cabbage, sweet corn, and potatoes. Mom took care of everything except the potatoes.
I attempted to help during picking and canning time. To her credit she was patient with my inattentive help. I would eat more than I picked or prepared.
We had an orchard and vineyard with apples, peaches, cherries, grapes, and rhubarb. Mom made pies from all of these except the grapes which became jelly. Rhubarb and cherry pies are to this day my favorites.
She also attended all of my baseball games as a kid. She was more nervous about my sports than I was, but you never knew that until after the game.
She recently recalled my one and only time at the mound during little league. I’m left handed and very accurate with pitching location, but not overpowering with my fastball. So the coach had me pitch batting practice every day to get our hitters used to facing a “southpaw.”
Those of you who follow my writing my not believe it, but verbally I’m a guy of few words. Mom never knew I pitched practice, she came to all games and no practices and I never talked about pitching.
So, I pitched batting practice every day, but never in a game. Never until it was necessary.
One game only one regular pitcher could make it to the diamond. He did great until the final inning when he walked the bases loaded. Get out the peanut butter, he’s toast. No pitchers on the bench, nobody out and a 4 run lead.
The coach comes out to the mound and determined that a pitching change must be made. The pitcher and I switch positions. My mother is perplexed and frightened in the grandstand. Why is Ron going in?
To make matters worse, she was supposed to be at a Pampered Chef party. Instead of being on time for the party, she sweats out my pitching debut with me and is late for the party. Being late for anything is against her grain.
I managed to get the save, allowing only 2 runs. Mom has a story she’s been telling for over 40 years. I love that she loves that story.