It’s only with a little age, I think, that you gain the perspective that allows you to really appreciate certain things.
It’s time and experience that gives you hindsight, so you can say, “Wow, I really was lucky.”
I was — and still am — lucky when it comes to mothers. My mama raised me right. And she always has my back.
Now I didn’t always listen when she was raising me. Still don’t. And we certainly didn’t always see eye to eye, but then again what boy and his mama does, especially in those younger years when boys think they’re indestructible kings of all creation and mamas are just obstacles to good times.
But time passes. You get older. And mama gets smarter. You realize that at least a few of those good times you thought you missed were just opportunities to get hurt or locked up. When you start trying to raise kids of your own — and you find out how unbelievably hard it is — you start to appreciate your own parents’ efforts. And how many more favors they did you than you ever realized.
Because of mama’s efforts and influence I received a good education. I built a career. I have a home, a family and — fingers crossed and knock on wood — I’ve managed to make it this far without getting hurt too badly or put in jail despite a fiery Irish temper, an impulsive personality and a near-complete inability to keep my opinions to myself.
I don’t know what people like me, who often have a hard time getting out of their own way, do without a good mother to keep them from running too far off the rails. What do they do without such a provider and a protector?
What do you do when you don’t have a mama to get in between you and the mean lady at the end of the street who’s yelling at you for something that wasn’t your fault?
What do you do when you’re 7 and all your friends tell you there is no Santa and you really need someone to tell you there is, because you’re not ready to stop believing yet?
Who do you run to when the neighbor’s dog bites you? Who hand-sews your skeleton Halloween costume because they don’t sell what you want in the stores? Who tracks down the original artist so you can you have a framed, signed print of the UGA poster that hung in your bedroom most of your life when you graduate from that university?
Who holds you when your Pappaw dies?
Who stands over you and fans you when you’re sweltering hot and lying flat on your back in a hospital bed unable to move? Who spends the night in the hospital with your wife when she’s in the same sort of condition so you can go home and get some rest?
And who, for goodness sake, makes you your favorite deviled eggs every time you come to eat, and always lets you have the first one?
The answer to all those questions for me is my mama. My guide and my friend.
Today is her ahem-cough-cough birthday. (I know better than to print a lady’s age in the newspaper.) But it’s one of those milestone birthdays, and I hope she has a very happy one.
Lord knows I’ve had a lot of happy ones because of her.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.