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The best person I’ve ever known turns 87 Friday.

I guess God spent so much time perfecting her, he figured her youngest could fend for himself.

Being her son has been worth it. Some things you know you’ll never live up to, so you just sit back and appreciate it.

That person put up with more bickering between four children than a mother should. There was simultaneous scheduling of various events, yet she seemed to be in multiple places at once. I can still remember her sitting in the stands as far back as Little League. She was proud, but I promise that no one was prouder than me.

She always had our dirty feet trouncing in from the outside – three of us were boys – yet the house was always clean. There were mouths to feed at the end of a long day when the town had no such thing as fast food, yet we always had a great supper. She could go to the freezer and within an hour have a meal that you’d pay big money for at some fancy restaurant, complete with the best tea ever brewed.

She dealt with our various scrapes and bruises, broken bones and broken hearts, school pros and school cons. I don’t know if what she prescribed with her spur-of-the-moment medical decisions worked, but you always left believing you were healed because Mama said it would be better now.

She was everybody’s friend in town. We couldn’t go anywhere without people smiling and talking to her. She didn’t seek the attention, but when she was just so dang nice, people sought her. I guess in some way it made their day better, too.

It was a time when the man of the house was supposed to be the “bread winner” of the family, yet she drove more than two hours round-trip weekly to earn a doctorate degree so she could better provide. There were no computers, so virtual classes were hardly an idea.

I was the only one still at home when she decided to take a position more than 600 miles away from the only home I’d ever known at that point. I remember us both crying as we left the city limits. But, I was with Mama so I knew everything would be alright in my new setting... and it was.

Since then, I’ve bounced around more than a utility infielder in the majors, working in seven states. Some of those were in the same town as she, others were several states away. I’ve had two daughters, both now grown and making their own mark on the world. They are as close to their “Nana” as any grandchildren can be, and they probably keep up with her as much as they do their Daddy... and that’s just fine by me. I know as long as they hear her words of wisdom, things will always be alright.

And they are.

Happy Birthday, Mama!

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