A few weeks ago when it was announced in a National Enquirer story that Hulk Hogan had been caught on tape making racist and homophobic remarks I wasn’t even a little surprised. Sure, as a child of the 1980s and early 1990s I was a card carrying Hulkamaniac and as a result I was disappointed to hear the news. But that is not the same thing as being surprised.
I generally assume that famous people from athletes to celebreties and especially politicians are probably hiding something. This way when that something is eventually found out I am never caught off guard. If they’re not hiding anything then that is just a nice bonus. The point is that these people are not actually people I know and as a result I need to be prepared for anything that might come out about their personal lives. But, it is because I don’t know them really that none of them are what I would consider to be a hero in my life.
I have approximately two heroes in my life. I call these two people mom and dad. Today is mom’s birthday, so I will write about her. My dad’s birthday is on 9/10 and that is when I will write about him.
No featured image because as I explained the other day I have no available photos to use. However, unlike with my dating relationships, I do actually know with a 100% degree of certainty that photos of myself with my parents do exist.
I consider both of my parent’s to be my hero because of one simple thing. I always had everything I needed when I was growing up, got more than I deserved in a lot of ways and never felt unloved. Neither one of them played a larger or smaller degree in making that happened than the other.
My mom is worthy of anyone’s admiration in my opinion. For one thing, she is a nurse and they are always good candidates for admiration. My mom works in a nursing home and has worked in nursing homes since before I was born. It strikes me that working in a nursing home has to be so difficult on a person because you work with a lot of different people who come into the nursing home but rarely do they ever get to leave the nursing home alive. Think of how many people a person could nurse through their final days over a nearly 40-year career in nursing.
My mom attends a lot of visitations and funerals. They know her well at the funeral home. While attending the visitation of the father of one of my closest friends, whom she helped take care of in the nursing home, she explained that she like to attend visitations and funerals because it was her way of showing the family and friends of the recently departed that taking care of their loved one was not just a job but that it was taking care of a person. When she said it though she used fewer words and it probably sounded a lot better.
She also has a work ethic that few people could ever hope to match. Someone once said that my mom would retire from the nursing home when her own room was ready. The person who said that was mom herself. I don’t think she’s actually serious and yet it is hard for me to imagine her retiring. This is a woman who gets bored on vacation.
My mom doesn’t have a lot of hobbies. I would say that her hobbies are being involved in the lives of her children and grandchildren. She bowls every so often and does have some TV shows she enjoys but I don’t really consider TV watching to be anyone’s hobby.
When we were kids mom worked a 3 PM to 11 PM shift. If you don’t understand the significance of that I will spell it out for you. When I was a child, my school day would run from 8:15 AM to 3:15 PM and I wouldn’t get off the school bus until about 3:45 PM. Mom was at work at 3 PM. I went to bed at 10 PM at the latest and she did not get off of work until 11 and often did not get home until after 1 or 2 AM since for many years she made extra money by cleaning a laundramat. I would wake up at 7 AM and she’d be asleep. Finally, consider that because she is a nurse and the nursing home must always remain open she got called in to work a lot when others could not. There was a stretch of time when I was in junior high that I did not have a face to face conversation with my mother for an entire week.
My maternal grandmother died before I was born and so I don’t know how much like her my mom turned out to be. I know that a large portion of her work ethic came from her dad, however. I remember the last time I saw my grandfather before he died. Mom and I went to visit him in the nursing home in June 2011.
He had moments of lucidity and then he had moments where he wasn’t quite aware of what was happening around him. But, I’ll never forget one thing he said that day. At one point in the conversation my 92-year-old grandfather declared that he was 102 years old and it was time he got back out into the field and worked. I mean, come on, being 102 is no excuse not to be working, right?
Every year at Thanksgiving it becomes popular for people to climb on their high horse and post on Facebook about how unfair it is that retale workers have to work on Thanksgiving. They say it is unnecessary and those people should be allowed to be at home with their families. They never seem to be bothered by all of the people who go to work to bring football games into their home on Thanksgiving, the football games that most of them use to distract themselves from their own families. While I don’t entirely disagree that the commercialization of Black Friday has gotten wildly out of hand, it is hard for me to become as furious. I’m used to my mom working on Thanksgiving. It was always a part of life and even the years she had Thanksgiving off, we could pretty well bet that she would be working Christmas. But it was working holidays and overtime and filling in when another nurse was sick or had an emergency that ensured that the 4 of us always had nice things under the tree.
The fact that my mom was at work during a lot of activity time was never a particularly big deal to me. I didn’t participate in a lot of activities that parents came and watched anyway. I wasn’t in little league but my brother’s were. I participated in debate and while debate is open to spectators there is a reason that they don’t hold debate tournaments in the arena and it isn’t just because the basketball team would have to dribble around us. So I never felt her absense from those types of events the way another person would have. There was one activity I did that she came to see and I almost wish she hadn’t.
In my freshman year of High School I participated in two school plays. One was the usual school play, that year it was James and the Giant Peach. Then there was the play we put on for class credit and that was called ‘The Flying Prince’. My dad was lucky, he got to see James and the Giant Peach. My mom saw me do the other play over lunch one day…and it was horrible. I’ll write about that one of these days but for now I’ll just say that it signaled my retirement from acting.
I said I always felt I got what I needed and more than I deserved. I was an annoying child, I could throw a tantrum better than most and to think about that right now drives me up the wall. I had Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles and WWF Hasbro figures all over the place. Even American Gladiators could be found in my box. A vast majority of them came from my mom in an effort to shut me up. I was always very aware of when her next paycheck was supposed to arrive. I know that I was no different than a lot of kids in that respect but still, knowing how I acted back then does not fill me with any pride, joy or happy thoughts. I did get some cool toys though, my favorite probably was the Ecto-One car…such a great car, wish I still had one.
Even animals flock to my mom. I don’t think our family ever had a dog that didn’t end up liking my mom best. Even now, my dog Ginny is always happier to see my mom come over than she is to see me come back home. There is just something about her that they seem to pick up on, our family dog girl used to follow my mom everywhere. If I needed to find mom I would just look for the dog. If I wanted to know where the dog went, just find mom. I don’t know if she was the favorite of all our cats but I do know there has never been a cat in our house that didn’t like my mom more than they liked me.
There is definitely something to all of that because our family has been known to have pets that lived long and healthy lives.
My mom was also the one who bailed me out in college when my ability to balance a checking account was the absolute worst. I probably shouldn’t be the one to criticize politicians for the crazy national debt increases over the past few years since if I were in charge things might be even worse. Well, if the college version of me was in charge. I’ll never forget the time I called my mom because I needed a substantial amount of money to cover some bad purchases and apparently could not hide my shame or embarrassment. I say that because she sent me the money with a note that reminded me that everyone makes mistakes and that’s why she’s here. Keep in mind that my mom wrote me a note like that even though someone else would have to read it to me. I vowed to do better after that and while it took awhile for everything to get smoothed out, I’m much better with money now than I was and haven’t had an overdraft in years and haven’t had one that was actually my fault in an even longer period of time.
Sometimes people will ask me if it was hard having a parent who worked so hard when I was growing up and that I didn’t see every single day. Remember, there was a time when we didn’t have a face to face conversation for a week. Well, if it was hard on me back then it certainly isn’t with years of perspective.
The reason I wouldn’t change anything is quite simple. Living in a town the size of Huron, I run in to a lot of people that I don’t actually know but who know who I am. They know my last name and there are two reasons why they might know my last name. One of those reasons is because they know my dad and the other is because they know my mom.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have come up to me over the years and talked to me about my own mother. They say something like: “your mom took care of my…” and then they insert a word like: mom, dad, grandparent, uncle, aunt, sibling and so on. Then they always mention her kindness or her gentle spirit and the impact she left on them and on their relative that she took care of in the nursing home.
That is what makes it worth it. I had to sacrifice time with my mom so that she could bring comfort to others as they were living out their final years. I would make that trade every single time it was offered.
My mom doesn’t go to church every week. She doesn’t serve on a bunch of committees and she would never make a show of giving money to this cause or that. Yet, I believe she is as close to fitting Christ’s definition of what a good Christian aught to be as anyone I know. She ministers to people who need her and does her best to do it with good cheer and spirit. She gives of her self to the benefit of others. She’s often not in church on a Sunday morning because she just spent the previous night being a minister to all of the people she takes care of at the nursing home. How many people can you think of who do nothing during the week to bring comfort and aid to others but show up like clock work at church every Sunday morning to do their part?
I’m sure I could probably think of more to say and I probably will at some point. I’ll probably think of something right after I hit publish on this post but even so if I never stop writing, nobody but me will ever see this.
So happy birthday to my mom. I’m sure someone will point this post out to her. When it comes to my mom, you’ll know everyone in the world has officially joined Facebook the day she signs up. Some people would say she’s behind the times when it comes to being online and having a smart phone and things like that, she doesn’t even text. I say she’s too busy doing much more worthwile things. Perhaps she’ll find herself online in retirement but I doubt it.
I love both of my parents. Whenever someone talks to me and tells me something about either one of them, I fill with pride and good feelings. I don’t think I will ever be the person that either one of them is but I do see a bit of each of them in myself and I am glad for it. I could write and talk for years and decades and I don’t think I would ever really be able to come close to expressing my appreciation for what they have given and done for me. Dad, I’ll get to you on 9/10!