On Mom's Day, 2015
Their daddy died a good while ago, so for years, the three grown boys had only their mom as a living parent.
One had a weekly date with her for lunch. Almost always from Griff’s Hamburgers. Griff’s was just right down the road, old Highway 80. She’d rather have a Griff’s hamburger than a $75 steak meal. That’s what one of the boys said. He meant it too.
Of course the years went by and her grandkids grew and got older and she grew too, but only older. That’s how it happens.
Couldn’t drive the pickup anymore. But every time one of the boys came by, the truck seemed to be in a little different spot under the carport than it had been before. One day a little paint was scraped off, there by the porch, almost like a truck had barely swiped it, moving really slow, like maybe pulling back in after backing down the driveway.
“Momma,” one of the boys said.
“Well,” she said, “I won’t do it again.”
A few days later her oldest son put her in his truck and drove to their property out of town and handed her the keys and he got in the passenger side. Over the pasture and through some ruts and around in circles and fast or slow, she drove. Smiled, and drove.
I’d eaten with two of the three brothers the week she died, back in January. They didn’t mention their mom being sick because they didn’t think she was. The doctors had her in the hospital for a couple of days but things had cleared up and it looked like she’d go back to her familiar house, with the pickup and what she called her other “assets.”
But then things changed really quickly and she found it hard to breathe and one of the boys called to tell me her condition. And four hours later he called to say his mom and the mother of his two brothers, peacefully with them by her bedside, had stopped her labored breathing and quietly passed away.
Their resourceful mom would have been proud of how the boys, sport-coat-or-dress-shirt-only churchgoers, handled getting appropriately outfitted for the funeral. Suits that hadn’t been worn in years were too small. So were belts. Did somebody have a tie bought in the past 20 years or so?
They started handing down and passing around and mixing and matching. In a flurry of rural emergency haberdashery, three brothers, a random son-in-law and a nephew or two were all decked out at a total cost of one new suit and a belt. At the service, they looked mighty fine. Mrs. Yvonne had to be smiling.
She had told her trio of sons exactly how the funeral service would be, when the time came. “And take care of my assets,” she reminded them. I wasn’t there when she said it, but I imagine it was the same voice and tone she used when she’d said, “Wash your hands before you come to this table,” or “Quit fighting and get in there and get to sleep.” They closed on the house this week and settled the estate, a small one maybe, but one big enough to raise three boys who knew how to take care of business, mind their own, and spread the good stuff for years among a family of blood and friends who stood together and sang the classics that morning on the third day after her passing.
“Victory in Jesus.” “Because He Lives.” “I Stand Amazed in the Presence.” Which, if you believe what God says, Mrs. Yvonne was surely doing that afternoon, for the first time in a long time away from the gravitational pull of pickups and pastures and Griff’s Hamburgers.
Today, another first. For the first time in 60-plus years, these three brothers will wake up on a Mother’s Day with no one to wish a “happy Mother’s Day” to. If it is like that for you, as it is for them, I am sorry. I really am. If it’s the first or 30th Mom’s Day without your mother, it must be the same feeling.
My friends will take care of themselves, and their families, because their mom told them to. To all moms, both alive and gone on, I guess we sons and daughters are part of your assets, though each of us has been a liability at times. But as you’d want us to, because of your adult lifetime investment in us, we will try to take care of ourselves. And of the others you’ve loved. No way can we do as good a job of it as you did.