Kent Bush: Fortunate to have won the mom lottery

Kent Bush

Author Tenneva Jordan once said, "A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie."

That's just about right.

You have to keep in mind that she also baked the pie after getting home from work, served the pie to the other four guests and will probably do the dishes when they finish eating their dessert.

When I think about my mother, there are always lessons in the memories.

I grew up on the front row of First Baptist Church, Ninnekah, Okla.

Mom played the organ so every time the doors opened we were there - and I was on the front row until I was old enough to go sit with friends without having my behavior embarrass her. Mom never needed children's church to keep her children from acting up.

I'm still not sure how she did it. She ruled with an iron fist even though she never hit us with it. I remember one spanking in my entire childhood. I know she considered it more than that but somehow held back.

My favorite story is about my brother. If Kenyon had been born 30 years later, he would have been given a giant economy sized bottle of Ritalin. Back then, he was just called hard-headed.

One Sunday, he was bored with the service and decided to practice standing on his head. My mom saw the act and wasn't impressed. With one snap of her fingers, my brother was flipped back into a posture that was more suitable for a young Southern Baptist.

Mom always seemed to have magical powers. No matter how many people were around, there was always something to fix for dinner. I'll never know how she turned a box of crackers, a cup of flour and three slices of cheese into a meal everyone would enjoy.

To this day, she still cooks almost every holiday meal for the whole family.

That used to be the five of us. Now it is those five plus the 15 others who were born or married into the clan.

She could also sew anything, clean anything and fix most things all after she got home from work and before our sports practices started at night.

I remember bringing a rubber frog home from an amusement park after completing a dare from a friend. Mom made it tiny clothes and I hung it from the rearview mirror of my car.

She still laughs at me about that one, and I am still amazed that she was able and willing to play her role in the fun.

Mom also carries a purse that is a bottomless wishing well. You cut your finger? She has a bandage. You need a tissue? She has two different brands to choose from. You're hungry? She has crackers or candy or both. You're toy ripped? She has a needle and thread and the skills to fix the damage.

It's remarkable that a 71-year-old can haul that much cargo around.

The reason she knows so much is because she never stops learning new things. Now that she is retired, she has joined an Oklahoma Home and Community Education group and was named the Rookie of the Year for her work on projects with the group.

She also frequently cooks for a local soup kitchen and for church dinners. (Remember, we're Southern Baptist. There are a lot of dinners.)

Everyone is jealous that our family got that kind of cooking and service every day. We never even left a tip.

Mom helped raise a pageant princess who went on to play piano in her church. That apple didn't fall far from the tree. Next she had a four-sport letterman who went on to become a pastor. And then she had me - a National Merit Scholar, newspaper publisher and columnist.

She may not be perfect, but it would take some pretty good evidence to convince us that she wasn't.

The older I get, the more I see my wife sacrifice for our son and realize what my mom had to sacrifice for her children. I also hear about the home lives of friends and see the problems other mothers have caused for their kids with selfishness or emotional baggage.

Every day I feel more and more fortunate to have won the mom lottery.

Her kids are spread over three states now, but there's a reason we all make it back home as often as possible.

Take some time this weekend to remember the great times you shared with your mom. Let them know how much they mean to you.

Next year, try not to wait for Mother's Day to make a weekend special for them.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.