By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON, Wis. — I was acting like a schmuck. A 6-year-old schmuck.
I was with my mom. We were shopping at Brunners, a miniature supermarket in the miniature village of Potosi. I’m not exactly sure what I was doing, but I know I was acting up — to the point where my mom told me that if I kept it up, I could expect a swat right there in the produce section.
I did, and mom kept her promise. She gave me a smack on my behind.
MY MOM: Sharon Jane Hammill, standing next to the love of her life, my Pop, the late and great Jim Hammill. Mom turns 70 today and the lessons she taught her four sons about hard work, respect and, above all, love, remain with us always.
I cried. I sulked.
And then I asked her a question.
“Do you love me, mommy?”
“Yes, I love you. I don’t like you very much right now, but I will always love you,” she said, and went about filling the cart.
She was in her 30s then, raising three kids mostly on her own — a couple of restive teens and a bratty little boy, at least on this particular occasion.
Today, my mother turns 70.
I am amazed and saddened by the velocity of time. Everything has changed in the 35 years since I got that love tap at Brunners. Everything except my mother’s love (and her Helen Crump-esque beehive hairdo).
Mom never could be accused of stoicism. My three brothers would tell you that “love” has been an easy word for her to say, expressed as naturally as exhaling. But it’s been even easier to show.
It’s in her hands. Hard-working hands, bent, blistered and bruised by years of factory jobs. Those hands helped keep a roof over our heads, food on our table, and provided her children with a better life than she had.
It’s in her heart, which she unabashedly wears on her sleeve for her family, particularly her grandchildren and any child anywhere who hurts or has been hurt by someone who was supposed to love and protect them.
It’s in the sense of what is right and what is wrong that she imparted in her children. That life is a blessing, we are all gifts, and that each of us has an obligation to prove it. That we are so much better than our worst days, and not nearly as good as our best ones. She taught us that if you want something, you work for it, and that nobody owes you anything.
I’ve learned over the years, sometimes the hard way, that there are few meaningful things in life that are free; my mother’s love has always been one of them. I learned that fact at Brunner’s, when I was being a little schmuck, and in the years since. She may not always like me, but I know she loves me (As a reporter, however, I should get a second source before this piece is published).
I think about the rough shape the world is in: the hatred, the desperation, the destruction. I see the abused, the broken, the lost. How do you fix this? How do you heal such soul sickness?
The older I grow the more I believe this old wounded world could use more moms – more good moms – to save it.
I’m biased but I’m proud to say that I’ve got one of the best.
Happy birthday, mom.
I love you.
Contact M.D. Kittle at firstname.lastname@example.org