Mama didn’t raise no fool.
We sat in a diner, down Baseline, preparing for breakfast. My Mother told me what she wanted and I silently recited it to myself again and again until the waitress came. As I rattled off both my and my mother’s order, the waitress looked surprise at how such a young boy would know how to order for a woman. But that is what a gentleman did and Mama didn’t raise no fool.
In the eight years I spent with my Mother, there were countless life lessons she taught me. How to get up early and dig for worms so you could go fishing. How to open the door for people. To always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, no matter how redundant you end up sounding.
You see, mama didn’t raise no fool.
What my Mom never taught me, was how to deal with the special days piling up since she passed away. Maybe it isn’t a lesson often passed down from parent to child but, then again, maybe it should be.
I think about my Mama on the day she died.
I think about my Mama on Mother’s Day.
I think about my Mama on my twins’ birthday.
I think about my Mama on my birthday.
I think about my Mama on my youngest son’s birthday.
I think about my Mama on every special holiday.
Oh, and I think about my Mama today, when we would have been celebrating her birthday.
My Mother taught me to always approach life with a certain amount of optimism. An understanding that good times and bad times they all roll through and you just try your best to roll with them.
She taught me to sing my heart out and be myself. A lesson I forgot until I realized I needed to impress it on my own children.
She taught me how to love reading books. From fairy tales to Goosebumps, she created an insatiable desire that has me unable to put down a good book until I am finished with it.
My Mother taught me sometimes the best thing to do in life is forgive people. And forgive yourself.
My mama didn’t raise no fool.
I order my wife’s chocolate chip pancakes, with whipped cream, at the little diner. I tell my waitress ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ every time she stops by the table, beginning to sound redundant. I hold the door open as we exit into the early morning.
Maybe it is a bit old-fashioned, but that’s what Mama taught me.
And Mama didn’t raise no fool.
I don’t know how to celebrate the birthday of my mother. Today she would have been, but she isn’t. On today, and all the other special days that pile up in a year, I find myself somewhat lost. But, I get through them by remembering my stuffed tortoise that played These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things. I remember cowboy hats and boots. I remember a What Would Jesus Do bracelet and a dreamcatcher.
I remember the passion she lit in me for storytelling.
I try to remember everything she taught me over our years together. All the lessons I forgot and remembered. The compassion she instilled. The forgiveness she reminded me everyone, including her, needed. Cursive letters and long distance phone calls.
I look at my family and my life. Where I have been and where I am going.
Mama didn’t raise no fool.