A Mother's Day tribute
Terry R. Cassreino / Assistant Managing Editor
May 11, 2003
Seconds after the waiter left the check on the table of the suburban New Orleans restaurant, my mother quickly snatched it, insisted on buying lunch and then handed me two 20s and a 10.
There I was sitting with my wife and mother in Day Je VU Fine Foods &Spirits near Slidell's historic downtown early on the afternoon of May 2, one day past my 42nd birthday.
I had been feeling kind of down much of the week, something I attributed to a combination of inching closer to the half-century mark and me and my wife's unsuccessful efforts to have a child.
And here was my mom, 62 years old, who works full-time during the week, holds a part-time job on the weekends, takes senior citizens on chartered bus trips on Sundays and still feels a need to give me a birthday present.
Her $50 gift wasn't that much of a surprise; she gives me some kind of gift every year no matter what. Instead, it was another touching example of her endless generosity, her need to express her love.
She's done it before and she'll do it again. It's in her nature. And, I guess, it's part of being a mother something that comes with the territory after spending much of your adult life raising children.
I am the oldest of three children and the one who lives the farthest from home. I moved out of the house in my third year of college in 1981, headed for North Mississippi and Ole Miss and never returned.
Well, sort of. My wife and I drive to Slidell and visit my family often. But I haven't actually lived in New Orleans or its surrounding suburbs for the more than 20 years I've called Mississippi home.
When I return to Slidell, we stay with my mother, take her out to eat and often involve her in our plans that is, if she can find time when she isn't busy with her two jobs or planning trips for senior citizens.
Sometimes, she's so busy working at her jobs, helping other people or taking groups of seniors on weekend trips or to Mississippi Coast casinos that she doesn't find time for herself.
My wife and I plan to take a Central American cruise this fall. So is mom. But instead of booking herself a cabin with an ocean view, she has obsessed about where two of her close, elderly friends will stay.
That's my mother. As she put it one day during a conversation we had: "If I didn't do it for them, they wouldn't have anything to do." And, you know, in this day and age, she's probably right.
None of that surprises me, though. And it shouldn't.
Not from a woman who dropped what she was doing one day in October 1981, drove to Oxford with her parents, and rushed me back to New Orleans after I contracted a potentially serious kidney infection.
Not from a woman who has encouraged my middle sister's music career, even getting caught on Interstate 20/59 in a dangerous 1982 snow storm while on their way to singing auditions in Birmingham.
Not from a woman who helped my youngest sister deal with the sudden death of her 11⁄2-year-old daughter in January 1990 after complications from open-heart surgery.
Not from a woman who literally broke down in tears in Sam's Club one recent Christmas Eve because she wanted to buy me a Christmas gift but didn't know how to do it without me seeing it and ruining the surprise.
While many people will spend today celebrating Mother's Day with their moms, I won't. I can't be in Slidell this year. Besides, my mom will be busy at her part-time job during the day.
But I'm more than certain I speak for many other sons and daughters who live hundreds of miles away from home when I say this: My mother will always be in my prayers and always in my heart.
Happy Mother's Day, mom.