Some dates take on really special meaning

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Lately, I’ve started paying more attention to dates.

Not the kind you eat and not the kind you go on with your sweet patootie.

Instead, those that come on calendars once yearly, which makes them even more special.

As a little fellow I knew about some, paid attention to them.

Example: I always knew when December 25 rolled around. And closely connected with Christmas was the school Christmas break, which by law, I thought, had to begin on Dec. 19 and end January 2 — just in time to watch what were then only four college football bowl games, all on January 1.

I was also big on Thanksgiving, which wasn’t always the same date but always the fourth Thursday in November. For awhile I liked it because it was an excuse for some really big drumsticks. Later on, I cherished it because it was when my brothers came home from college and I got time with them.

Easter could be in March or April but it was always a good time because chocolate Easter bunnies would appear. Sometimes I’d bite off the ears; once I saved one for 10 years. It wasn’t a pretty sight, all pale brown and dried up under the cellophane. Later I learned what Easter was about; then the eggs and bunnies paled in comparison.

There were others with particular boyhood significance, especially my birthday. But as I’ve aged out of little boy clothes into big boy pants for almost three-fourths of century, another date lives in my mind — and heart.

It came this week.

April 6.

My mama would have been 102, although for the last little bit of her life she couldn’t remember if she came in 1917 or 1919 or 1918, the one I’d always heard.

When I was a little guy my mama was always there. She was the person who would send me to Sam White’s store with a dime for us to share a Milky Way or who stirred Grandma’s Molasses into a glass of cold milk, pronouncing it my supper dessert. She fried the best chicken and okra and had a gift for cutting sweet corn off the cob and frying it in fatback grease. That, in large part, explains my current figure, but what I’d give for one more meal like that.

Later as I struggled through the teen years — too old to be a boy and too young to be an adult — we had some disagreements. They never were violent. Vocal, sometimes, but never disrespectful. And on more than one occasion, my dad retreated to another room and broke out his harmonica to play “Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home.”

Later I realized I was just trying to figure out who I was, something I’m still working on.

In time, after Dad slipped away and Mama’s health started doing the same I became a significant player in her caretaker game. I had help all along but it was me she called at all hours the years she was able to stay at home and those at the care facility. I think I averaged six and a half days per week seeing her.

While she could, we’d go for rides, for her pleasure or while I delivered newspapers. We’d stop for a hot dog or as we rode along she’d point out a particular house, telling me for the leventy-umpteenth time who used to live there before moving somewhere else and so on and so forth. For I don’t know how long after she died, I’d plan to call her to ask such a question about a family member or friend or think to myself, “I’ll ask Mama” and, of course, you know how that goes ...

We had talks about this and that and I used to annoy her on purpose just to keep her blood pressure up and aggravate her. One day after she had told me the same thing for the 19th time, I asked her if she thought she had raised an idiot. Her reply was in the negative, and then she asked me why I wanted to know. I told her it was because she kept telling me the same thing over and over. Her reply was for me not to “get smart” with her.

I think about her a lot, not just on April 6 either. It’s just that on that day ... well, you know.

If you’ve still got your mama, do like the late Paul “Bear” Bryant, legendary University of Alabama football coach, used to say in the telephone commercial: “Call your Mama.” Better still, go see her.

Did I mention that I miss mine?

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.

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