Doug Hensley as a compliment to moms who are just a phone call away
The Texas Tech basketball team only claimed the 1993 Southwest Conference Post-Season basketball championship at Reunion Arena. I was ready to write the story of an unlikely melancholy Red Raider in Houston.
Naturally, I walked from my place to the media workroom, into a long corridor and saw a payphone.
And I called my mom.
I don’t have a search engine or an encyclopedia, but my mom had a phone call, and, thanks to her knowledge of “The Mickey Mouse Club,” I got some details for the first paragraph of a story stating how That week became “whatever happens to happen.”
The old Southwest Conference disappeared a few years later, and the Reunion Arena was destroyed in 2009. As for a payphone, I’m also not sure where to start.
But I still call my mom, and she still has the answers I need. As you read this (hopefully), Mother’s Day, and I realize how lucky I am to still have my mother in my life and have a great relationship with her for six decades. I understand that my experience is not everyone’s experience.
I’ll just start by saying sorry if this day has stirred up hard memories because your mom is gone or because the relationship isn’t good. These words are not intended to make others feel bad or aggravate uncomfortable memories.
I sincerely hope that your Mother’s Day is not painful. In our area, we will celebrate the day we have had for many years. My husband usually goes to church with his mother. I call my mom sometime after church, and our family enjoys eating together.
I have had many phone calls with my mother over the years. One of these came long ago after my first few days in a Texas Tech residence hall. I don’t know who’s with me. I came in between semesters so I didn’t really know anyone. My classes are all late because I registered late. I was thinking about packing my things and going home, something I would have done in the previous semester at another college if it hadn’t been done to my own expectations.
My mother’s legendary patience (five kids with very different personalities) overheard me and then she just said, “Give it a few more days.” So, I took his advice, and some days it has reached 41 years. I got a journalism degree from Tech and, by the time it was over, had made a handful of the best, most honest, friends a person could expect.
Now, I can’t imagine being where I am but where I am.
There is, I think, this tendency to give meaning to our parents when we are younger. For many years, my people lived no more than 150 miles from Lubbock. I make regular trips to see them, but looking back, probably not as often as I could. First career and then the family obligations. Many of us try to walk the fine line between releasing ourselves and often lean on our parents ’steady presence when things get even harder.
Now, with them some 550 miles away, we are lucky to see them once a year. I look forward to pulling in their path and spending time doing whatever they need to do. After all, that’s what my siblings and I have benefited from over the years. And I have to tell you, I still, even after so many years, find it hard to say goodbye to my mother at the end of a visit.
I believe one of the greatest technological breakthroughs has been the development of video calling. I understand that it’s not the same in a personal conversation, but there’s a huge level of comfort in video calling and seeing my mom’s smiling face appear on my phone. This closes the distance.
The other thing lost in miles is sincere communication. A year ago, I wrote a deeply personal column about my mother and our family and how much I admire who my parents were and who they are now. I sent it to my mom to kind of get her blessing on my sharing it publicly. He loved it and then said that many of it was “family business.” Don’t read too much about that. This is his way of saying that every detail of life is not necessarily intended for public dissemination, regardless of the goodwill behind it.
But he kept his copy.
Without getting too emotional about things, I wanted my mom to know how much she admired and loved me. Persuasion. Compassion. Determination. Perseverance. I have seen so many of his good qualities in my life.
In recent years, he has never had more than one phone call. I have always had this personal philosophy of not overemphasizing these set days. I tried to treat my mother like every Mother’s Day. I’m the same way about Veterans Day and Valentine’s Day, by the way.
The greeting card business requires regular arm shots. I got.
That said, people notice how we treat others every day, and if you only show up in your mother’s life once a year, that’s very powerful speech.
I hope everyone can have a relationship with their mother like I do, but I understand that is not the truth. For those who have lost their mothers, especially recently in the past year of horror, I apologize for your loss. I’m sure this day was filled with pain, and there are no words here that would make that easier to bear.
For those who have had a tough relationship with their mothers, I hope someday, someday, there may be an opportunity for reconciliation.
Because your mom can be just a phone call away. Until the day he is gone, and then it will be too late.
Doug Hensley is associate regional editor and director of commentary for the Avalanche-Journal.