Amazing yes, but she had a hobby that bloomed out of control, right into obsession. She picked up aluminum cans. She didn’t do this to be “green”, she didn’t have a specific problem with litter. She did it so she could make her husband turn them in for the few pennies a bag that they were worth.
Both of my daughters and I have been the victim of a spur of the minute swerve to the shoulder of the road and a command, daylight or dark, sunny or rainy, cold or hot, to “Hop out and pick up that can.”
Do you remember the scene in “Independence Day” where Jeff Goldblum’s character is fishing cans out of the office trash and muttering. Multiply that by ten and you have my mom. Throwing cans away was a capital offense, one that she would remind you of over many future visits. “Be sure to put that can in the bag by the back door. I found three in the trash after you left last time.
Summer 1990. Mom and I took my two daughters to Six Flags Over Texas. We drove Mom’s van and drank plenty of sodas along the way. Mom had a brown paper bag in the van and her command, as always was, “Put your empty can in that bag.”
Our plan was to visit the park for two days. This would require two nights stay at a local motel. Mom’s cans were locked safely away in the van, but the girls managed to toss back a few sodas before they went to bed each night. As ordered those cans were dutifully crushed and placed in to a used fast food bag.
The second morning, as we were preparing to leave, Mom began to look for this bag. Couldn’t find it. We were mobilized to look under beds, behind furniture, Heaven forbid—in all the room’s trash cans. No sack. Mom’s conclusion—The cleaning staff had “stolen” her cans. Remember. A number of squished cans in a crumpled brown bag. If you were a part of the cleaning staff, what would you think?
No amount of logic could convince my mother of anything short of theft. Forget that there was undisturbed luggage in the room with much more valuable contents than a few empty cans. She was determined to have justice. She intended to report the theft to the manager. My daughters were mortified. They begged, they pleaded, they offered to run across to the convenience store, purchase a six pack of soda and drink them on the spot to replace the missing cans. Nothing was good enough for my mom. I’ll never forget the experience of hiding in the van with my daughters as she marched to the manager’s office to submit her complaint. I’ll never forget her anger at being told there was nothing the staff could do to replace her “loss”.
Oh, I miss those days and I miss my Mom.
They too, are amazing women. They work, they handle emergencies, they maintain their homes, and love their kids and husbands.
So, Here I stand, right in the middle of motherhood with a loving example behind me and amaze-me-on-a-daily-basis examples in front of me and I wonder what I did to earn such blessings.
I think of my mother every day and wish I could tell her, one more time how much I love her. I look at my daughters and hope they always know that I love them more every day.
Do you have a Mother's day story to share? Feel free to leave it in the comments below.
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