Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 12, 2013

HOPKINS: Remembering a very special woman

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Dear readers,

I planned on writing a Mother’s Day column, but every time I tried to write one, I got stuck. Not because I didn’t know what to write, but because I didn’t know how to phrase everything.

You see, this year Mother’s Day has taken on a different meaning. This is the first Mother’s Day I can’t celebrate with my mom. She passed away March 9 after a valiant battle with cancer.

She’s still with me in spirit. And I’ll think of her often today, as I have every day since she passed. Still, I can’t quite write everything I want to today. So, I’m sharing with you the column I wrote last year about her, which sums up what a special woman she was:

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

I wish I could be home to say that in person, but unfortunately a phone call will have to do this year. Actually, it’s been that way for the last few years. Let’s plan on Colleen and I visiting you next year for Mother’s Day.

I’m glad my sister flew in from North Carolina to visit, and my brother stopped by on Saturday afternoon. But, next year I want to be there.

Every year we take one day out of 365 and set it aside to honor our mothers. When you think about the sacrifices that most moms make for their children over the years, one single day to pay tribute to them doesn’t come close to saying thanks.

We don’t say “thank you” or “I love you” as often as we should. I suppose it’s always been that way, but it seems in this rushing-about world of today that it’s more so. Or, maybe it’s because as we get older we begin to appreciate — and cherish — what we have a little more.

You prepared dinner each night for four children. How many times, Mom, did I thank you for making all those lunches I took to school? Twelve years, 180 school days equates to 2,160 lunches. Of course, there were many days when I bought lunch at school instead, and there were many days I missed because I was sick.

Speaking of being sick, how many times did you climb the stairs to my bedroom to give me cough medicine in the middle of the night? Or, when I was younger, to check that there was still water in the humidifier? Or the trips to the doctor when I was really sick? Then there were the allergies and the weekly visits for shots, which became less and less frequent as my immunity to the allergies grew.

With Dad working out of town, the driving fell to you. All those trips down to Kennedy Arena in Rome for hockey practices and games. Then there was driving to away games. Many of the trips were short, right in the Utica-Rome area. But there were the far-flung games in Binghamton, Albany, Auburn, Syracuse, Oswego, Ottawa (at least the team took a bus for that trip) and points in between. That’s a lot of miles in that old Chevy Caprice station wagon.

Of course, we’ll never forget the bully who targeted me for two years in elementary school. Fourth and fifth grades weren’t much fun because of him, an older student who made Nelson Muntz from “The Simpsons” look like a sissy. All of those phone calls to the principal finally paid off.

There were times that I brought problems upon myself. I had a “smart” mouth as a child — a habit Im sure I picked up from Dad — and that caused me to get in a few dust-ups with other kids. Boy when you found out, the punishment was usually worse than the “punishing” I took from the other kids. I was slow learning that lesson, but it’s a lesson that was learned and one to which I try to adhere.

Remember the troubles I had with seventh grade science? I was coming home with too many D’s, despite my best efforts. Biology still isn’t my strong suit, but thanks to you sitting down with me for about 45 minutes every night to review my assignments my grades improved. They were mostly in the mid-70s,but it was better than the 65s and 68s I was getting. Thankfully, earth science in eighth grade was a breeze and I was consistently bringing home 90s in that class.

When my brother went away for college, I took over mowing the lawn and shoveling the driveway for our elderly neighbors. I soon added a few other lawns, and was making some pretty decent money for a junior high school kid. Money earned from those odd jobs — which I kept through high school — was socked away in a savings account. You made sure of that. It’s too bad that most children today don’t understand the value of these jobs, and the labor department frowns on such “child labor,” but that’s a column for another day.

In high school, as my freedom grew and I went out on the weekends with my friends, you’d sometimes give me some extra spending money. That trend continued into college where the money was used as often for beer (but not until I was 21, wink wink) as it was for food and books.

Cook, nurse, chauffeur, protector, disciplinarian, teacher, business advisor, ATM machine. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’ve always been there for me, Mom, and you still are. Although I thank you, it never seems to be enough. But thanks again, Mom.

And I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.