This is an article that I wrote in May 1999 for a Mother's day presentation at church. Several of us had been asked to stand up and answer the question: "What did your mother do right?" This is my answer.
What did my mother do right? The first thing that comes to mind is that she walked in circles a lot. Let me explain. I grew up in a small brick house, on a small lot, in the midst of a sea of similar brick houses, also on small lots. It had always been my mother's dream to move to the country, but that never was to happen when I was young. She did however, take every opportunity to get us kids out into a natural setting.
One of our favorite haunts, especially on long summer days, was the local nature center. By today's standards, it wasn't much--just 10 or 20 acres of left over swamp land with some trails on it. There was also a small building that contained nature center type stuff, and where they always had some caged animals on display. To us kids, it was heaven.
We were always excited to visit. I remember fondly running down the hill from the nature center building, and out onto a long, wooden bridge that crossed a wet area. We loved that bridge! It must have been a full 100 feet long, and there were no railings, so when the water was high, we were always a little bit afraid of falling in. It was a fun fear. I also have vivid recollections of watching some wild honey bees that one year made their nest in a hollow snag on the other side of that bridge. And then there was the skunk. There was usually a caged up skunk outside the building. It was with trepidation and fear that we always approached Mr. Skunk.
When we were very young, my brother and I would simply accompany my mother around the trails. But as we got older, we began to go on excursions of our own. We would run around all the side trails, especially the ones that skirted the swamp, exploring the area, and often pretending to be spies. Throughout all this, my mother would simply walk the main loop trail, over and over, until it was time to go home. One of our favorite games was to get up in the woods above the main trail and "spy" on our mother.
Often it's the little things that stick with us the most. It must have been fearfully boring for my mother to walk around the same trail for hours at a time just so we kids could have a chance to play in the woods, but she did. She did it often, and she always seemed happy to do it. To this day, one of my fondest and most vivid memories from childhood is of my brother and I walking those trails with our mother.