My mother did not have a job. Instead, she worked all day at home for free. I had a lot of chores as a kid, but they were all outside—splitting and stacking firewood, starting the fire in the furnace, keeping it going, dumping ashes, cutting the grass, tending the garden and all of those things. In terms of everything else, I was completely spoiled. Heck, I even brought laundry home from college to be cleaned. When I was out of clean clothes, it was time to visit the old homestead!
“What is this?” my wife, Renee, pointed at a glass not long after we married.
“It’s a glass,” I said.
“It is your second one today,” she said as seriously as if I had committed a crime.
“The other glass was a coffee cup. It had coffee in it. I am drinking a pop now,” I said. Some of you may call pop by the name of soda or maybe Coke. In some parts of the south it is all Coke. Once, while in the Carolinas, I had Pepsi Coke and my wife had root beer Coke and my stepson had orange Coke.
“Do you really need two glasses per day?” my wife interrogated.
“N-n-n,” I stuttered, “No, I guess not. I used all sorts of glasses to drink from as a kid. I guess my mom did a lot of dishes.”
“I’m not your mother,” she said.
It wasn’t too many weeks later that she asked about why I used a new towel every day after showering, explaining that they could be used two days.
“I am sorry,” I said, “I just always have done that. My mom must have done a lot of laundry.”
“I bet she did,” Renee said, “I am not your mother.”
The following year there was a Sunday when my wife inquired about a gift, “What did you get me for Mother’s Day?”
“You’re not my mother,” I said. She never said a word in response, but her glare was sufficient. I have given her a gift for Mother’s Day every year since then. Whew.
I delivered The Erie Sunday Times as a kid, and I even won a trip to Europe with it. The contest was based on getting new subscribers, and my mother procured almost all of them. I used the profits from that route to get my first beagle, in 1985, for $75. My father bought a half-littermate. The pups were two weeks apart in age and both started chasing early. Mine at four months of age and dad’s at only 3 month’s old. I thought that was normal, and was disappointed in a pup that started at 6 months some years later, not realizing that 6 months is still fairly young.
Back then, you could not train dogs in the wild during the summer. So, If I wanted to listen to some hound music in between annual incarcerations at the school, I had to go to the beagle club. If dad was working day shift, it was my mom who drove me to the club. When I turned 16 and got a driver’s license she would let me borrow the car to go to the running pen, so long as no dog got on her vehicle’s upholstery.
Anyway, that first pup of mine, Duke, contracted parvo not long after he started chasing rabbits. One of the dangers of beagle clubs is the presence of viruses, especially in the wake of a field trial. At that time, a vaccine for parvovirus was relatively new, and even with the vaccine there are several strains. My young pup had diarrhea with blood and I was panicked. Off to the Veterinarian mom took me, where Duke was kept for over a week. He almost died.
My mother was a hair dresser, though they are now called cosmetologists. She did go to school, but never worked at the job once she had kids. Well, she did some. She would go into the homes of elderly people who preferred not to go to town. This was back when many women would have their hair “done” once per week. There were a number of customers that my mother saw during the day while my sister and I were in school. If we ordered a pizza for supper or went to a movie theater or anything like that it was most commonly my mother’s money that paid the way until we earned our own money; like the funds from a paper route. My paper route wasn’t going to finance the veterinarian bill. That would require hair cutting money. I remember crying when that pup was left at the clinic and crying when we picked him up. He had to be in the house for a few weeks, and I slept in a sleeping bag on the kitchen floor with him for that time period. I loved it. I was a little sad to have Duke return outside to the kennel with his half-sister.
I often think of all the times I ran dogs by travelling in mom’s taxi or her loaning her car to me. I think of how she would feed dogs for me if I had to be somewhere in the evening. I also think about how, when I was in college and Duke was getting old and had cancer she took care of having him euthanized. I was angry at the time, because I would have wanted to say goodbye to my first hound. I felt I should have taken him for that final ride. Mom knew best. She saw how I cried when he almost died as a puppy. I have had beagles for 32 years, and that last drive never gets easier, though I always do it. I wonder what she would think of the fact that my beagles are all in the house now. Happy Mother’s Day.