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Chuck Brooks: Moms, here and now, deserve appreciation

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms/ It's time once again to celebrate a role that should definitely be acknowledged more than once each year, but on this day, we give Mom special attention. And deservedly so.

For most of us, it was always us first and Mom second. After losing my mom 35 years ago, this one day changed for me. It would be a number of years before getting past my loss and accepting Mother's Day as just another day in the calendar year.

This week, however, I thought it was time to celebrate Mom once again. With five siblings sharing the same mother, I have to say at the outset I speak only for myself here and the relationship I had with Mom.

My earliest memories of Mom are ones where she and I would leave the house each morning together. We'd walk downtown, and at a certain intersection, she'd continue to walk forward a half block and I'd take a left to head to the parochial grade school I attended. It was my time with Mom. I didn't know it then, obviously, but many years later, I'd look at that daily nine-month ritual as something quite special.

I remember one morning as we were walking on the sidewalk downtown, Mom switched places with me. She put me on the outside, closest to the street and she walked closest to the buildings we passed. I asked her why she did that; she explained that a gentleman always walks to the lady's right in case a car passes, hits a puddle of water, and splashes it on the person closest to the street. I never forgot that. I think it was once called chivalry.

I have memories of going to the bank where Mom sat behind a "window" of sorts, doing her job as a bank teller. For a number of years, I had to look up to see her from the other side of the counter where she sat. As years passed, I'd eventually be able to see her at eye level. Everyone in the bank knew me, as they did all my siblings; I had my share of visits to Mom, just popping in to say hi on my way back home. The bank and the school were a street apart as both streets were parallel to one another. Stopping on my way home was hardly out of my way and it gave me great joy.

City lunches

This next memory occurred either in the summer or on days when school wasn't in session. I'd come down and pick Mom up at the bank, and we'd walk down the street to this little restaurant called City Lunch. We always sat at the counter.

Mom always knew what I would order. "He wants a ham sandwich, with butter, ham and lettuce only. Oh, and a tall glass of chocolate milk." Yup. Nothing could beat sitting at the counter with Mom; ham sandwiches and chocolate milk never tasted better. We'd talk about whatever came into our heads.

Mom insisted I learn how to save money. She did this two different ways.

First, she'd bring home from the bank coin cards. They had multiple slots to fill and once it was full, it was to be taken to the bank and cashed in for paper money. If I was going to have an allowance, she wanted me to save each week from that.

The second technique she used was the once-upon-a-time quite popular Christmas Club account. I was to put money in that account each month at the very least and then, in December, I could go withdraw my money so I could Christmas shop for my family and friends. The club came complete with a little book and stamped entries of when I would deposit money into the account.

She knew what she was doing. It worked.

Mom was a strict disciplinarian. You didn't want to get on Mom's bad side. I always used to tell people I could be gone for days, and Dad would never have noticed, but arrive five minutes after curfew, and I'd be greeted by lights on in the house and Mom waiting inside for me to come through that door. She was a worrier and sadly, she passed that on to me. I have a doctorate in worrying.

My favorite story about my mother is one I won't share here, but at the time, I had no idea the significance of what she'd done. I was 15 and I came home with a story one night I thought would send her spinning into the stratosphere, but instead, she approached my news with such calm and logic, it blew me out of the water; years later I came to realize just how cool Mom had been in her reaction. She was pretty special.

When Mom left us, I was 28. This is the 34th Mother's Day with Mom absent from our lives. Yet, she remains ever present in our minds and our hearts.

If you still have amom in your lives, be sure you make her feel special today. If she's gone, simply take time to remember her today. She deserves that much. "Mother — person who does the work of 20 ... for free."

See ya next week!