I cannot tell you the number of times over the past 30 years since my mother passed away I have wanted to ask her a question.
She had always been my go-to person when I had something I needed to know. She was so good at giving solid advice and, man, have I needed some good advice over the past couple of years.
I find myself occasionally wishing that I had her back, if only for a little while, asking her some of my most pressing questions.
She grew up in an era where folks had to depend on each other and especially the land to survive. She knew what it was like to grow up in a Depression and understood the kind of sacrifice that was required to just make ends meet.
She will always be my mother, but as I grew older, especially in my adult life, she became more of a mentor and even a peer in so many ways.
Things have changed since she passed away. I know she would have been surprised by those changes; however, one of her qualities was her ability to change. She was one of those people who took things in stride, no matter the situation.
In other words, she was a survivor. I’m sure it was because she had survived the 1930s, when this country was having to do without the many things we now take for granted.
She was a firm believer in the philosophy that God takes care of folks who take care of themselves. I heard her say that often, especially when I would ask her a question about financial decisions.
After my brother and I got older, she went to work. She did not have a lazy bone in her body, and it didn’t take long for her to be promoted.
We needed the money to survive since our father had several heart attacks in a row and was unable to work. He would die my Senior year in high school. She took that burden on herself to be the provider for our family. I’m sure that had not been in her overall plan, but like I said, she always did what had to be done.
There was not much money in our house for much more than necessities (this is pre-welfare, by the way). So, I worked as well. I started working in tobacco when I was 8 years old. The $12 a week I made for those few weeks in the summer went to buy mine and Eddies’ school clothes.
She understood how hard times could really be and thankfully she was able to retire and spend her last years with her brother and two sisters in Lake County. Although she had a rough life, she never looked back, she never was bitter about the past and for the most part lived in the here and now, making the best of what she had at the time.
I think about her daily, especially during this pandemic and all of the political unrest we are seeing across the country. I would love to hear her voice and know what advice she would give me.
To be honest, I believe I know what she would tell me; she would say what she said many times before.
“Work hard, do the best that you can do, put your faith in God and, most importantly, don’t let it get you down.”
I would still, however, like to hear her say it.
Byron Spires is a retired newspaper editor. He has written dozens of short stories and serials in the Havana Herald. He recently published “The Curious Life of Marci Bell” in a series of three books. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.