Mother’s Day And Just Four Words


Steve Nauman

My mother always took her job (7 children, it was a job) as a mom, seriously. I can remember before I was old enough to go to school, when sometimes in the morning she would read stories or even poems to me after my older siblings had left for school. She also invented clever ways of teaching me things too, like a cardboard template shaped like a foot that she put shoe laces in to teach me how to tie my shoes. I learned almost instantly using that cardboard foot!

She was very frugal too, she had to be-I usually tell people that growing up we weren’t poor, we just didn’t have money! So, she would save parts of packages that would normally get thrown away for us kids to make rainy days projects. One of my favorites was a covered wagon, about 10 or 12 inches long. It actually worked and looked great, plus it was made from things that would have just been thrown away!

I remember one thing I could never figure out was my mothers “radar” and I used to wonder if all mothers had it, or was mine unique? An example of it is, when I was about 5 years old I started getting tonsillitis. Many times I would wake up in the night with a very sore throat so I would walk into my parents bedroom, go around to my mothers side of the bed, and without even touching her or making a sound, she would open her eyes!
But…..even a mother’s love couldn’t heal those tonsils….. and I soon had to have my tonsils and adenoids removed. 

In the early 1960’s, a child’s hospital stay was much different than it is today…… I was to be admitted to the hospital the day before the surgery and I would be in for about three days. Visiting hours (even for family members) were just a few hours during the day and a few hours in the evening. Plus parents were not allowed to stay in the room! 

But ….. all of this sounded okay to me because my parents told me that if I was “good and brave”, I could have any toy I wanted from the store (Nauman’s general my fathers store).

Well, right away I had my father take a Roy Rogers gun that shoots real plastic bullets off the shelf and put it in the back room (just to be sure no one would buy it before I got home). That gun was as good as mine! Because I’d already determined that I was going to be “good and brave” no matter how much this was going to hurt…..

The night in the hospital alone before surgery was uneventful, in fact I don’t remember anything about it….. I just kept thinking about how close I was to getting that Roy Rogers gun! But….. I now think it must have been a horrible night for my mother. The hospital I was at was close to an hour away from home, over back roads, big hills and empty spaces. Yet….. she surprised me by being there before I went in for the 6 AM surgery. For all the extra effort, little sleep and love she displayed, I sure wish I’d had a better greeting for her when she walked in as the nurses were getting me prepped for surgery, I looked up at her and said “what are you doing here?” I’ll just blame that on the pre-surgery medication….. 

I can remember waking up in severe pain after the surgery. I was in a big room full of people who were moaning and groaning and crying out in pain. I had blood in my mouth, blood on my pillow and it felt like someone had been ice skating in my throat! It hurt so bad I couldn’t stop all the tears from trickling out of the corners of my eyes, but I had to remain in control because I had to be “good and brave” to get that Roy Rogers toy gun.

When they wheeled me to my room I saw my mother…. she had been waiting the whole time. When I saw her it looked like she had been crying and I wondered why? But I had to stay focused on not crying “be good and brave” so I just laid there staring up at the ceiling with tears leaking out of the corners of my eyes. I couldn’t talk after surgery and I couldn’t spell many words yet, so some sort of sign or body language was all I had. The nurse would give me a spoonful – and I was so thirsty  – of ginger ale every 15 minutes, just a spoonful, and I wanted the whole bottle!

After watching me awhile, my mother came over to me and said “it’s okay if you cry”. I shook my head no, used hand gestures holding that toy gun. She said “just because you cry doesn’t mean you won’t get your toy, you’ve already earned it”.  Instantly my stomach and chest started heaving and bouncing up and down as I started sobbing…..and she hugged me….. And just that quick ….. she had her little boy back…..A Mother’s Perception …..   A Mother’s Wisdom …..    A Mother’s Love …..

I’m sure many of us when we take time to reflect as I just did, would love to give some kind of award or outstanding recognition of some kind to our mothers. But most mothers are probably like mine and are not looking for special recognition of any kind….. But….. if you still have your mother, I’m pretty sure she would receive fulfillment from Just Four words ………. “Mom I Love You” ……… 

Till Next Time…..

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Steve Nauman

These wonderful posts are written by my good friend Steve Nauman. He lives on a farm in northern Indiana with his wife, Ruth.

He owned and operated a machine shop until 2020. These stories come from the people and experiences that made lasting impressions upon him as he grew up in his father's general store in Upstate NY and later in his own business.