I know you’ve probably had better days Mom. But this is your day and you’re still my mom. I haven’t spent a Mother’s Day with you since I went away to play ball fifty years ago. And now you can’t even get out of bed to come to Houston and spend it with me. I could come to L.A., but this is the first Mother’s Day that Julia and Ryan haven’t spent with their mom. I bet you would trade with her, but we don’t get to make those decisions.
I am often asked how I pitched in the big leagues when I was 18 years old and I say it is because of my mom. She had me dressing myself and tying my own shoes before the first day of kindergarten. I was also reading at a first grade level. A lot of people think I was a good manager because we won our division four times in five years, but we never went all the way. You did. Los Angeles City Champions in both swimming and gymnastics. I could see the swimming title. After all, you had me and then Rick and Laura Lynn swimming before we knew better. We were practically infants. Gymnastics I don’t know about. I recall you telling the story of when I ran into the house begging you to come outside and watch me do a flip. When I ran up on the sidewalk and flipped over landing on my feet you almost had a heart attack. I could have stayed on the lawn to save you the shock. But I was just a dumb kid. You told me that a lot too.
I think it was the natural-born coach in you that gave me confidence to be precocious – and to persevere. Working the graveyard shift at Lockheed to pay for your education at USC was the start your legend. Finding dad was the rest. You kept telling me I could do anything or be anything until I believed it. Why not? You pretty much blazed the trail.
I remember how we had to eat what was on our plate or starve. When I met Judy she cooked whatever I desired. Then when Julia came along, she cooked special meals for her. Then one year when we were out there for Christmas, Judy cooked a meal for Julia, another meal for Ryan and yet another for all the adults. You were aghast. It just wasn’t your style. But she had her own ideas. Good ones. I told her about your eating ultimatums and she told me that her mother cooked her whatever she liked as a child.
“But they’ll be spoiled,” I said.
“Well I’m not spoiled,” she countered.
I couldn’t argue that.
After the kids came along, with me on the road half the time, I finally quit trying to be the boss. When you said, “I was raised the way I’m raising them,” I knew that was not only the best, but the only way for us.
I told you to keep it up. ”Just tell me what our position is,” I said. “I’ll back you.”
Ryan’s coming in from Dallas on Saturday. We’re going to go to the cemetery to spend some time with you. I know it will be sad, but it will be sweet too.
There’s nothing like having a great mom. I know that because of you, mom. And they know because of their mom. There’s more than one way to be the best. But there is no way without love.
Love you Mom,