Benny's World

Friday, April 29, 2005

Dear Mr. Bell

Andrew Bell of the Lubbock A-J was alerted to a special celebration for my mom next weekend. He wondered why we were doing this. Here's my response.

Dear Andrew,

May I give my apologies for the dilatory response to your e-mail? I was ill for a few days, but I am on the mend.

I cannot answer to your question as to why collectively my brother and I have decided to spend this particular Mother’s day with my sister and mom. To answer simply, he decided on his own to stop by my mom’s en route to a business destination; I decided to join him in surprising my mother.

But I can speak to why I want to participate in this wonderful, serendipitous event.

My mother is 74 years young. I say young because while her body is getting older, and her memory is more like an older person’s, her spirit is still of one who is her in thirties. She attends all of my local niece’s and nephew’s sport events, or listens to them on the radio. She knows all of the baseball players’ names on the Rangers’ and Astros’ teams, and by golly, she can deliver commentary about their strengths and weaknesses about them almost as good as Red Barber could have done. She was the same way with my brother when she transported him and watched his little league games when we were kids.

My mother is predisposed towards reading and learning. Most every night, she reads a fun novel, a biography, or a mystery. This was no different from when I was a child. She read to us each night. She also took us to the public library when it was the Main Library on 19th street when we were old enough to appreciate reading books on our own. I would check out a stack of books about the Boxcar Children by Gertrude Warner or Beverly Cleary books about Henry Huggins and the gals in his life, Ramona & Beezus. Sometimes, I would read books about living in Hawaii or what England was like during Henry VIIII’s reign. Mother and Dad seldom had money to take us on vacations, so reading was my way to travel, just as it is my mother’s way these days.

My mother enjoys reading the Good Book and whenever she is able, she tries to go to her church’s Sunday school to participate in lessons she can learn from others as well as from Jesus. When we were children, she made sure we had been baptized in capturing the essence in the Lord’s Word to “allow children come unto me”. At our request, she found money in her pockets for us to attend Christian Camp for a week or at least go to Vacation Bible School. She did not mind if we visited churches besides our denominations because she thought God’s grace belonged to anyone who sought it.

Well, these all sound like our childhoods. They do except that to look under the fine print you would have to know that my dad was a paraplegic and my mother worked 2 jobs when I was in my early years. He struggled to find a career, and ended up going into small business for himself, but he could not make ends meet easily without my mother’s income before my age of 10. She still found time to help my brother learn all 50 capitals of the states when he was in sixth grade, showed multiplication flash cards to my sister when she was in second grade, and played with me when I was lonely. But when I was eleven, Mother got sick for a long time, and there wasn’t a doctor who knew exactly was wrong with her. Finally one day, a few years after dad had passed away, she got well.

Somehow, she managed to instill learning, independence, and for me especially, the gift of giving back to the nation, state, or community. I have been a life-long volunteer in non-profits, as early as the age of 14. Today, I work in a large educational institution, educating students to become life-long learners. At that, with my staff’s help, I manage a top 35 business library in a major research library in which part of our mission is to teach students how to find relevant business information and put that knowledge to work in problem solving for companies or to help community folks in finding information for their forthcoming business plans.

My mother’s gifts? She cooks meals bakes pies for anyone whose family would appreciate comfort food, even if it means her wallet is less. She feels good about contributing through her best effort: cooking. I do the same for families who have had their first children as I know mom's and dad's are too busy to think about making a meal for themselves.

Lastly, May 8th is a very special day in my mother’s life; it would have been her 51st anniversary with my dad. Dad has been gone 15 years. She misses him and never had a golden anniversary to celebrate with him. While we could never replace Dad's special place, I hope we will honor her with our resemblances of him, as much as her. Moreover, I think it is fitting that her children, who haven’t been with their Mother in nearly 30 years on her day, are there to delight and to cherish her accomplishments, which she claims are her children--with her.