Up Against the Day, Redneck Mother

I was thinking about writing a Mother’s Day post, but OmegaMom already wrote the best one I’ve ever read [update: sadly OmegaMom’s blog is gone and the domain was purchased by spammers; I removed the link.].  That post should become the Pledge of Orphans, to be recited by us all on maternal occasions.

My mom was, almost all of the time, a super-cool lady and someone I really enjoyed talking with.  It’s uncanny to me how many of my core personal values come directly from her.  Both good- she was moderate, politically, in a region that based on my Facebook stream is rife with hardcore conservatives (or, as I like to refer to them, haters).  And questionable- I have absolutely no tolerance for poor performance, as my kids will attest.  Ask my kids what to try means and they will roll their eyes and respond, “to fail with honor.”


Mom has just entered her teenage years in heaven, Nirvana, Jannah, Valhalla, the great hereafter, or the cold, cold ground, depending on what you believe.  In a nutshell, I am convinced that there is a higher power deserving of praise, but when I dive into the details of traditional Christian teaching, I run into trouble- particularly as it relates to heaven.  What do you do there all day?  What about babies?  What if you have more than one long-time spouse, etc.?  The devil is in the details, I guess.

The best description of heaven I’ve ever heard was by the angel Castiel in this past Friday’s Supernatural episode. And, no, I’m not kidding.

I wrote a short story inspired by the last time I saw my mom, and a song about the last night I spent at her house.

Now, I’m the husband to a mother.  My girls, particularly, like to hang out with me.  I pretend that it’s because they think I’m cool and fun, but it’s probably because they know I’m easier to manage.  When they skin a knee, they fly right past me, asking where Mom is.  I suspect that’s almost always the way it works.


The second best Mother’s Day message I read this year was from a guy I work with.  He’s from New York, but he likes country music.  He is the best email writer I know.  I think he writes emails the way songwriters write songs.  He penned a hit earlier this morning:

As seriously as we take our jobs,
there are no jobs more important than the ones mothers do, day in and day out.
I often think of my own mother and the core values she instilled in me early on–what could I be without them??
So to all of you who have (or had) wonderful mothers, to all of you who are married to wonderful mothers and most of all, to all of you who ARE wonderful mothers –
I wish you and your mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day!!

Happy Mother’s Day, mom, wherever you are.  Happy Mother’s Day, Raina.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers.  Mothers who have raised your [children] so well.

(On the origin of redneck mothers, for the curious)

Carnival of Mother’s Day

Mike Miller hosted a special Mother’s Day edition of the Carnival of Family Life.

Here’s a little link love for the other participants, and some good family reading for you.

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Mother’s Day

My mom was born in Andrews, SC in 1925.  Some of her first memories were of the depression-era rural south.  That experience had a lot to do with the way she felt about money, politics, and just about everything else.  She drilled into my head that saving money was important, that debt was bad, and that you never knew what was around the corner.  As I get older, I am constantly reminded of how much of her values I absorbed- even as I tried to ignore them.  In turn, a lot of her values are being drilled into my kids’ heads.  I hope they are absorbing them- even as they seem to ignore them.

My dad died when I was 8 and my mom was 43.  My sister was in college by then, so for most of my formative years it was just me and mom.  We fought like cats and dogs at times, and we had great fun other times.  She insisted that I do my best and accepted nothing less.  It often made me mad, but it also made me who I am.

Many of my best memories of my mom involve playing cards and board games.  We played Hearts, Spades, Spite and Malice (which we called Spike Malice), Risk, Rummikub, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble.  You name it.  The family games we now sometimes have after dinner are another remnant of my mom.

She cooked the best chicken livers and made the best biscuits in the world.  She was a great tennis player.  She loved Bjorn Borg and disliked John McEnroe.  She was a huge Wake Forest fan, and we would talk on the phone after every big game.  Like the time Randolph Childress single handedly won the ACC Tournament.

But she loved her cigarettes.

Mom died of cancer 5 days before Cassidy (my oldest) was born.  I wrote a short story about it.  Part of the reason Cassidy and I are such soulmates is that she pulled me out of that darkness and healed me.

After Cassidy was born, I went back home to clean out Mom’s house- the house where I grew up.  I wrote this song on her back porch after the movers left.

I don’t think about mom every day anymore.  I wish I did.  But I’m thinking about her on this Mother’s Day.  I wish she could know her grandkids.  I wish they could know her.

Maybe they do a little.  Because they know me.

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