Fifty one Mother’s Days ago I bumped across Birmingham in a VW with a pregnant wife about sunrise. And 45 minutes after getting to Saint Vincent’s Hospital, Kimberly Lauren Lee entered this world. A few days later she came home to join her two-year old brother, Kevin Bradley Lee.
So Mother’s Day always has something of a double meaning for me. A time to acknowledge the love and care of mothers everywhere, and a time to celebrate the birth of a daughter.
Of course, on this special day in 2017 I am flooded with memories of my own mother, Alpha Lee Stuart Lee. Someone who loved a laugh, loved her family to the utmost and who could make the best biscuits in the world. The youngest of five children born to Jasper and Lena Stuart of Rt. 2, Red Level, AL. Someone who until the day she passed away at 90 could tell you the names of all her classmates in the first grade at the two-room Chesser school about 300 yards from her home.
I well remember helping her set out azalea and camellia bushes at our farm on the Padgett-Switch road near Irvington in Mobile County. One was an evergreen Mama called a “monkey bush.” (My horticulturist brother says it is more properly known as a Monkey Puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana) But I know it is still there and about 30 feet tall.
And I’ve sometimes wondered how me and Mama survived our time together on the farm. What with me letting a tractor run over me, being on a runaway horse chased by one of her dogs, having an arm gouged open by a hog not happy that he was about to be butchered, getting my forehead split open by a chuck of concrete block Daddy threw in the wrong direction, etc.
I decided later in life that Mama’s true mission was to feed her family and to worry about them. Her dinner tables always groaned under the weight of too many butter beans, creamed corn, potato salad, baked beans, chicken and dumplings, cornbread, fried chicken, roast beef, chocolate pie and goodness knows what else.
How many times did I say to her, “Mama, you can’t do anything about that, so just don’t worry.” To which she always replied, “Well son, I’m just worried about it.”
While I no longer have a mother to send a card to on this day or call on the phone, her memories are always with me. And I remember her with a heart-felt “I love you.”
And to that baby girl who is all grown up and living in Germany, “Happy Birthday.”