I was pretty much always a Mommy's boy; she was the one who was always around; she was the one to whom I would always run when I needed any kind of help or support or guidance or love. She never turned me away; she never let me down. I tried to show my appreciation any way I could, especially once it was clear that she and my dad were getting on in years, and I could no longer act as if they'd be here for me forever. I could have waited on my folks hand and foot for decades, but I would never have come close to repaying them for everything they did for me throughout my life. I know they greatly appreciated my efforts, drops in the bucket that they were.
My mother was usually a peaceful sort, unless she was up in arms about something that had stuck in her craw. She tried to raise us to be the same way: Christian hippie pacifists with as little ill will as possible. I remember when I delivered newspapers at age eleven; there was a kid my age (two weeks older, I later learned) who decided it would be amusing to him to bully me. I endured his ridicule--taunts and verbal barbs--for a couple weeks; I tried to figure out how to go down his street when he would be somewhere else. That plan failed, and one day he pushed me to the ground, daring me to retaliate. He told me he'd get me every day; something had to give.
I went home and told my mother about the situation, because she had made it clear that she did not want me fighting. She told me she was proud of me for not behaving like the lowbred churlish redneck my nemesis was; she decided to go have a word with his mother. She drove me over to his house and walked up to the front gate. There was a dog in the yard making a fuss--Heidi the Daschund--my mom leaned on the gate waiting for someone to come out of the house; Heidi seized the opportunity to attack her. She jumped up and bit into my mother's right forearm; she would not let go! I started towards her, but before I could get there, the kid's mother came out and called the bitch off.
Much of the rest of the scene is a blur: my mother cursing the dog and the kid and his mother; my mother threatening to kill all three of them "...if this crap doesn't stop right now...;" the kid's mother shooting back, telling my mom to "let boys be boys;" the kid grinding his fist into his hand with that "I'll see you later!" look in his eyes; the blood dripping from several canine holes in my mother's arm. It was traumatic and humiliating; I think it damaged my delicate psyche seriously and permanently.
Several months later, I ran into the kid and a friend of his in the field behind our school, just after class had let out for the day. The friend, who was bigger than either of us, grabbed my arms and pinned them behind my back while the kid punched away at my midsection. I remember their taunts, "Hey Mommy's boy!" "Why don't you run home and tell your Mommy?" [Making crybaby faces at me,] "I want my Mommy! I want my Mommy! I want my Mommy!"
I didn't speak about what had happened that day until it came up in conversation with the kid, who several years later had become one of my best hoodlum friends.
My plan for today is to make it a good one for Mrs. Peter, who is, after all, the most important mother in my life now. We're going over to my sister's house to hang out, grill steaks, drink beer and wine and generally pass a good time, which is what we would have been doing over at Mommy's house today.
Happy Mother's Day!