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Appreciate your mom while she's still around

Happy Mother's Day. It's hard to believe that we only set aside one day a year to honor the wonderful women who gave us life and sustained us throughout. Hopefully, of course, we do remember to show honor and appreciation to our mothers, but it's still nice for them to have a special day of their own - and if you are taking yours out for dinner, remember that Oprah KFC coupons aren't being honored Sunday. You'll have to pay with your own dime.

I never cease to be amazed at what a wonderful mother my lovely wife Lisa has been to our kids. I know for a fact that I don't tell her often enough that I appreciate all she does on their behalf, so maybe Sunday we can find a way to show her, in some small way.

My mother has been gone for more than a decade now. I still think of her often, of course, and it's funny what I remember about her and what I miss the most. Many of my most vivid memories are of my childhood. I remember, for instance, that one night a week was television night at our house. I am pretty sure it was the night that "I Love Lucy" came on. All the ladies in the neighborhood would bring their laundry and sit and fold clothes while Lucy, Ethyl, Fred and Ricky cut the fool for 30 minutes.

Not a word was spoken while "I Love Lucy" was on, but afterward the gossiping began and I was excused from the room. Sometimes on television night, the ladies would give one another Toni Home Permanents. The aroma would remain long after the last pink-rollered housewife had left the premises.

I remember my mama on her hands and knees, with her mouth full of straight pins, hemming a new dress for my sister. I always wondered why she couldn't sew clothes for me, too, and one winter she gave in and made me a pair of flannel pajamas. They were the scratchiest garments I had ever attempted to wear, and I couldn't wait for spring so I could quit wearing them.

I remember how proud my mother was the day I graduated from college - the first child in our family to do so. I wasn't really interested in dressing up in a cap and gown and parading across the football field, even if it was the football field in Sanford Stadium. But when I told her I was going to have the school mail my diploma to me, I could see the hurt in her eyes and quickly changed my mind - and have always been glad that I did.

I think of my mother every time I run across Bob Hope in a black and white "road picture" on late-night television and I think of her every time I hear a song by Bing Crosby or Perry Como, which I readily admit is not very often.

It took about five years after her death for me to quit expecting the phone to ring after a Georgia football victory. She was a big fan and couldn't wait to call and ask, "How 'bout them Dawgs?" after a big game. And I haven't really enjoyed a piece of fried chicken since my birthday in 1999, which was the last time she cooked hers for me.

Tommie Huckaby was raised in Social Circle during the depths of the Great Depression. She was a weaver in the Osprey Mill in Porterdale for three decades and was eternally grateful for her job, her four-room house and her family. Her travels consisted of annual trips to the North Georgia mountains and Jacksonville Beach, Fla., a trip to the New York World's Fair with the Porterdale Women's Club and an improbable adventure to New Orleans to see the damage along the Mississippi Gulf Coast following Camille's visit in 1969.

But she worked and sacrificed all her life so that her children would have the opportunities that she didn't, and I never heard her complain about her lot in life - not one single time; not even as she sat at her kitchen table during her last months on Earth, her body wracked with cancer, stubbornly sucking on one of the Winston cigarettes that would kill her.

You'd better hug your mama if you've still got her and she's close enough. Or go see her if you can. Or call her on the phone if you can't go see her. The time will come when she's not here and take it from me - you won't ever stop missing her.

Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net.