God must have had a very good day the day when He created my mother.  She was the perfect and only perfect mother for me.  I am aware that not all sons and daughters can make this claim, and that many do not look forward to Mother’s Day because they have few pleasant memories.  I extend my sympathy, and wish I could share just a little of who my mother was.  Born in Sylacauga, Alabama, in 1922, she had a Portwine strawberry birthmark across one side of her face.  Her daddy worked for the L and N Railroad, and the family had to move from one Alabama town to another; once four times in a year.  “Cow kicked me,” she told one inquisitive classmate when asked for what seemed like the hundredth time what happened to her face.

Mama was beautiful; full lips, broad smile, and brown wavy hair.  She was industrious, and held jobs at Friday Lumber Company and worked scheduling troop transports through New Orleans on the Crescent Line of the Southern Railroad during World War II.  She and other young women danced with soldiers at the Service Center at Northington General Hospital.  She remained friends with some of these women for decades, including one who became her sister in law when Mama fell in love with my father, a disabled vet who tried his hand at farming.  He won her over with the fields of red clover on his farm, and with his bookcase-making carpentry skills.  They married and raised my sister and me to be good little Southern girls.

My mother was well liked by colleagues and friends of all ages, something that impressed me.  We had our mother-daughter struggles, but I knew deep down she always had my best interest at heart when she would tell me some behavior of mine had hurt someone’s feelings, or that I was thinking only of myself.  Thank goodness she loved me enough to expect me to behave like a generous and sensitive young woman.  Even when I was taxing her to the limit, she found ways to support me.

Once, when my father was in the University of Alabama (UAB) Hospital awaiting open heart surgery, she drove me to an informational interview with an editor at The Birmingham News.  Her mind and heart were with Daddy, lying a few blocks away in a hospital bed.  However, I was trying to secure a job with the Cooperative Education program at The University of Alabama. The interview was the first step in the process.  (The job didn’t pan out, but we wouldn’t know that until the end of the interview.) I was nervous, so Mama waited for me in the lobby of the busy newspaper office.  I wanted to be a writer more than anything except that my father would get well.  The editor told me gently there wasn’t a position for a copywriter.  I felt let down, but that paled compared with worries about Daddy, who’d already had a heart attack a few years previously.  I know Mama longed to get back to the hospital, but she stopped me as we walked past a business supply store on the way to her blue Pinto station wagon.  In the display window was a portable electric Smith-Corona typewriter in a sleek black case with a handle.  It looked very smart.

“Would you like to have that for your writing?” she asked.  

A few minutes later, I walked out to the car, proudly carrying that little electric typewriter.  Mama always supported my goals and, within reason, my desires.  I am happy to say Daddy’s quadruple bypass heart surgery was successful; we got to keep him until he was 80.  Mama kept on loving him (she said God gave her the gift of loving my father and her two girls, “The Four Walls.”) She died close to Mother’s Day in 2006 of Alzheimer’s.  But even that horrific disease could not rob her of loving those around her.  She would have loved you, too.  

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.  I love you.