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Thanks, Ma: An Appreciation

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Paul here, giving Phil a rare Sunday off (he’ll return the favor for me tomorrow), because I want to talk about Mother’s Day. Yes, it’s a Hallmark holiday, it’s sappy, blah-blah-blah, but this is the first Mother’s Day since my father passed away last June, so it’s my Mom’s first Mother’s Day on her own, all of which has gotten me thinking a bit about moms in general and mine in particular.

My mother is many things, but “sports fan” is not among them. She’s not anti-sports; more like sports-oblivious. I don’t think she came to any of my Little League games, and that was fine — she wouldn’t have understood what was happening. She did occasionally come along on family outings to watch Mets games at Shea, but she never quite fit in at the ballpark. She stopped coming after I made a big point of showing how embarrassed I was that she’d brought carrot sticks to a game. In retrospect, I probably overreacted, but c’mon — carrot sticks?!

My favorite story about my Mom and sports comes from 2001, when the Giants played the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV. I figured this might be my Pop’s last chance to see his Jints in a Super Bowl (happily, I was wrong about that), so I went out to Long Island to watch the game with him. At some point during the second quarter, Mom walked into the TV room with a big eager-to-please smile, and said, “Big game? Who’s playing?” There was Mom’s relationship to sports in a nutshell.

I don’t mean to pick on Mom. On the contrary, I think she was unusually patient and indulgent when it came to sports. The only woman in a family full of men, she had to put up with a lot of sports chatter going on between my father, my two brothers, and me. That Super Bowl was one of a jillion times when the TV was tuned to some kind of game — sometimes while we were all sitting at the dinner table. I often felt a little guilty and selfish about that, even though I was usually the one lobbying hardest for the TV to stay on for “just one more inning.”

Five or six years ago I asked Mom about all this. “Didn’t it annoy you if the ballgame was on during dinner?” I asked her. “Didn’t you feel left out of all the sports chatter?” (I decided not to revisit the carrot stick incident.)

“You know, Paul,” she said, “your father is about the least macho man there is. That was always true of you and your brothers, too. So if you all wanted this one masculine thing to bond over, I figured that was fine, even if I didn’t really like it or understand it.” I thought that was pretty great answer, and a small but telling example of the little sacrifices that mothers make for the sake of their families.

Like most women of her generation, my Mom didn’t have many career options. She worked part-time in the interior decorating shop that she and my father owned, but most of her adult life was spent being a wife and a mother. With my father and one of my brothers now gone, and with no grandchildren for her to fuss over, I’ve come to realize that my remaining brother and I are essentially her life’s work. She used to follow my career via the articles I wrote about food, design, business, and so on. But now that about 95% of my writing involves Uni Watch, she says, “You only write about sports now. I can’t understand any of that.” It makes her feel alienated from my work — and, I think, from me, which makes me very sad. One of the many reasons I’ve been pursuing the Permanent Record project is because I want there to be something in my life that she can feel connected to, something that has nothing to do with sports.

Mom grew up in Brooklyn and loves New York City more than anything, but she can’t get to and from the city by herself anymore. So this morning I’m driving to Long Island to pick her up and bring her to Manhattan, and my brother will bring her home in the evening. We plan to spend most the day checking out the High Line, which she’s been wanting to see (and which I’m certain she’ll love). I’ve promised myself not to check the Mets score on my iPhone during the afternoon. I may even bring carrot sticks.

Mom won’t be reading any of this (if there’s something she relates to even less than sports, it’s computers). But I wanted to write it down anyway, as a gesture of appreciation to her, and to all the other mothers who’ve put up with more than their share of sports from the men in their lives. As for the rest of you out there, if you’re lucky enough to still have your Mom around, give her a call today, whether she’s a sports fan or not, and let her know you’re thinking of her. Because you know she’s always thinking of you.

 

45 comments to Thanks, Ma: An Appreciation

  • Dan McB | May 9, 2010 at 7:36 am |

    Happy Mother’s Day to your mom! And to all Moms!

  • JTH | May 9, 2010 at 7:52 am |

    Happy Mothers’ Day to all the moms reading this.

    Nice post, Paul. It’s a good change of pace for a Sunday. You and Phil should switch days more often.

  • JTH | May 9, 2010 at 7:54 am |

    Shoot. I don’t want to sound like I don’t appreciate the weekend posts, because I do.

    Hell, I even helped out with yesterday’s, so that’s not at all how I meant it.

  • mike | May 9, 2010 at 8:27 am |

    http://shop.mlb.com/...

    stars and stripes caps are officially out..

  • Terence M. K. | May 9, 2010 at 9:08 am |

    Great post Paul!

    My parents were children of Irish immigrants and whose fathers were coincidentally Giants fans. When they met, they shared this passion and while dating and the early years of their marriage told me stories of going to see happless Mets teams in the Polo Grounds and then Shea Stadium’s opening year. In ’64 my Mom worked for New York Telephone and was able snag ASG tix because she worked the World’s Fair. Anyway, when my Dad passed in ’98, I started to take her to the Mother’s Day game, when the Mets are home, or watch the road game at her house and just regale me with all those stories of how they fell in love while watching ball games together. I can see I reconnects her to my Dad, renewes her love of the Mets and brings me closer to all three of them.

    Happy Mother’s Mom

  • Terry Proctor | May 9, 2010 at 9:18 am |

    To everyone out there. Treasure each day with your Mother (and Dad). Someday you’ll find yourself facing a problem and wish “If only Mom was here. She’d know what to do.”
    Enjoy the day, Paul. And say “Hi!” to your Mom from me.

  • Ricko | May 9, 2010 at 9:20 am |

    Best piece of advice I ever got about staying in contact with Mom as we get older was, “Yes, there’s Mother’s Day. But the OTHER Mother’s Day is your birthday. Always call your mom on your birthday. Guarantee you, SHE knows what day it is, and she’s thinking about you.”

    So if your Mom is still around, talk to/see her today, of course. But remember to call her on your next birthday, too (before she calls you, like Billy Crystal’s mom in CITY SLICKERS). That will make her happier than you can possibly imagine.

    —Ricko

  • Peter | May 9, 2010 at 9:20 am |

    Paul:

    My mother was a huge baseball fan, originally NY Giants, but she switched her loyalty to the Mets at some point. My father taught all of us to hate the Yankees.

    During the 1999 World series I was on the phone with her and, to my chagrin, realized that she was rooting for the Yankees. Incredulously, I asked why?

    Her response: “John Rocker is on the other team.”

    Thanks Mom for teaching me that there are things more important than sports.

  • StLMarty | May 9, 2010 at 9:41 am |

    My mom is one of the funniest people I know. The best part? She doesn’t try to be funny. I’ve been counting my lucky stars for years.

  • Chris Doran | May 9, 2010 at 9:52 am |

    [quote comment=”389442″]http://shop.mlb.com/search/index.jsp?sr=1&kwCatId=&origkw=stars+stripes+caps&kw=stars+stripes+caps&pg=1

    stars and stripes caps are officially out..[/quote]
    WOW… as oppesed to years when the caps were red (Phillies, etc.) and blue (Yankees, etc.) This year they made dang sure that these hats would not look normal with ANY team!!

  • nosferatu | May 9, 2010 at 10:05 am |

    Great post, Paul.

    Some of those Stars and Stripes caps are unbelievably hideous. The Giants’ and Marlins’ caps are just a total mess. A few strangely seem to work because of the simplicity, though–the Rays’ and Nationals’, for instance. But $37 for THAT???

  • Ricko | May 9, 2010 at 10:12 am |

    “This year they made dang sure that these hats would not look normal with ANY team!!”

    By definition of a special event/promotion, then, that would mean they finally got it right.

    From a visually pleasing standpoint, however, it just means they got it more wrong than ever.

    —Ricko

  • ScottyM | May 9, 2010 at 10:20 am |

    Very nice!

  • Ryan B | May 9, 2010 at 10:49 am |

    [quote comment=”389448″][quote comment=”389442″]http://shop.mlb.com/search/index.jsp?sr=1&kwCatId=&origkw=stars+stripes+caps&kw=stars+stripes+caps&pg=1

    stars and stripes caps are officially out..[/quote]
    WOW… as oppesed to years when the caps were red (Phillies, etc.) and blue (Yankees, etc.) This year they made dang sure that these hats would not look normal with ANY team!![/quote]
    They’ll look OK with the red-white-blue teams (Phils, Angels, Red Sox, et al.) but for the rest of them, yikes.

    From a historical standpoint, this will mark the first time since 1932 the Red Sox will wear a white cap (as far as I’m concerned, the 1997 white cap never happened).

  • Darbs | May 9, 2010 at 10:56 am |

    My mom is from Philly. Everyone in her family is a diehard Phillies fan. My dad is from NYC and has successfully passed on his diehard Mets fanhood to both my sister and me. Maybe she wanted it, or just couldn’t avoid it, but now she’s one of the biggest Mets fans I know. So much so, in fact, she gets into fights with her family anytime the Mets and Phils get together. I wouldn’t ask for it any other way!

    Great post, Paul. Resist that iPhone urge!

  • JB Early | May 9, 2010 at 10:58 am |

    I’d have been right with you on spouting off about bringing carrot sticks to the ballpark. But she seems as if she’s the kind of mom best described with the adjective “great.” Give her a pink cap. Tell her that’s the kind of thing you write about. I bet she’ll hang it up some place everyone who comes to her house can see it.

  • Richard Craig | May 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm |

    Paul — what a sweet tribute to your mom. As usual, it’s beautifully written. Stuff like this reminds me what a versatile writer you are — the equivalent of a five-tool player. It’s part of why this is such a pleasure to read every day. Thanks for all you do.

    BTW, apropos of nothing, on Mother’s Day the anti-spam word I had to type in to post this was “broad.” A coincidence, or our dads’ generation somehow having fun with us?

  • Teebz | May 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm |

    My mom asked me today if there was another one of those “Uni Party thingies” in Minneapolis. A few years ago, Paul made the trek to Minneapolis, and I brought Mom down with me so she could do a little shopping and get away for a weekend. She has asked me the last couple of years about it, even though my parents came down for Pond Hockey.

    Thanks for making the weekend special to my Mom, Paul, in a round-about way. She’s not a sports fan either, but my Mom and I had a great time that weekend just hanging out, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

    Happy Mom’s Day!

  • cjkite67 | May 9, 2010 at 1:28 pm |

    Nicely put, Paul. My poor mother had to live in a house with 5 guys. My father and my three brothers always had some sporting event on. She handled it gracefully and lovingly. She is great at dealing with the yelling at the TV when we all get together to watch a game. Here’s to your Mom, Paul and to my mom also….

  • Jim Smith | May 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm |

    My mom was a huge LSU fan, as was/is everybody in my family. My dad started taking her to LSU football games in 1958, the year of our first NC, and she was hooked after that.

    She loved hoops because she played HS basketball, she was a huge Pistol Pete fan.

    She loved the Saints too, she would have loved to have seen the SB win this year.

    We lost her five years ago, but I think about her most days.

    Happy Mothers Day Mom.

    You were the best!

    Happy Mothers Day to your mom too Paul.

    Great story!

  • =bg= | May 9, 2010 at 1:47 pm |

    My Mom was just like Edith in All In The Family. And I mean that in the best way possible. She passed away last summer, so this is the first MD with no call to her.

    On an unrelated matter- eating strawberries and Nutella for breakfast (yeah!) and watching the Giants @ Mets- WTF? 51 degrees and winds west at 17? Is this Niners @ Giants or what?

  • Jason | May 9, 2010 at 1:58 pm |

    Just wanna say thanks for this one, Paul.

    I’d type more, but the room is dusty and I can’t see the keyboard all too well…

  • Steve | May 9, 2010 at 2:16 pm |

    Lovely post!

    I’m gonna call mom right now…

  • M.Princip | May 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm |

    Love you Mom!

  • LI Phil | May 9, 2010 at 3:01 pm |

    beautiful post, paul…thanks for the day off — hope your day with mom was special

    i’m off now to spend the rest of the day with my mom, who, despite all of the grief she has given me over the years, only does it because she loves me so

    in the words of Washington Irving:

    A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.

    everyone have a great day, with or without your mom

  • BurghFan | May 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm |

    Ryan B said:

    From a historical standpoint, this will mark the first time since 1932 the Red Sox will wear a white cap (as far as I’m concerned, the 1997 white cap never happened).

    You don’t have to like what they did in 1997, but it certainly counts “from a historical standpoint”.

  • mike 2 | May 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm |

    First mother’s day without my mom as well. Feeling a little lost.

    My mom was a hockey fan and we went to a lot of game around Toronto when I was growing up – we couldn’t afford the Leafs so it was usually Toros, Sabres or junior hockey.

    When I got older, I started into things she didn’t understand (running, cycling, curling). Even though she didn’t “get” any of these sports, and she actually thought running as a sport was kind of dumb, she was incredibly supportive.

    Like I said, feeling a little lost today.

  • Joe D | May 9, 2010 at 4:04 pm |

    Wow.

    The Tampa Bay Rowdies new mascot is a green and yellow stripped sock.

    http://www.tampabay....
    (photo #2)

  • Paul Lukas | May 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm |

    Just got back from Manhattan. A very nice. Thanks to everyone for their kind words about today’s post — much appreciated.

  • Matthew Robins | May 9, 2010 at 4:38 pm |

    [quote comment=”389467″]Wow.

    The Tampa Bay Rowdies new mascot is a green and yellow stripped sock.

    http://www.tampabay....
    (photo #2)[/quote]
    And it’s glorious… http://sphotos.ak.fb...

  • Matthew Robins | May 9, 2010 at 4:40 pm |

    [quote comment=”389469″][quote comment=”389467″]Wow.

    The Tampa Bay Rowdies new mascot is a green and yellow stripped sock.

    http://www.tampabay....
    (photo #2)[/quote]
    And it’s glorious… http://sphotos.ak.fb...

    Oh, and it’s called “Soccer Sock”

  • besty | May 9, 2010 at 4:42 pm |

    Has anyone seen that LSU is putting in purple field turf for this season? Can’t believe it hasn’t been discussed on here or did I miss it? http://www.lsusports...

  • Matthew Robins | May 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm |

    [quote comment=”389471″]Has anyone seen that LSU is putting in purple field turf for this season? Can’t believe it hasn’t been discussed on here or did I miss it?

    http://www.lsusports...
    “The folks in the LSU athletic department are having a little fun this April Fools’ Day.”

  • JTH | May 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm |

    [quote comment=”389472″][quote comment=”389471″]Has anyone seen that LSU is putting in purple field turf for this season? Can’t believe it hasn’t been discussed on here or did I miss it?

    http://www.lsusports...
    “The folks in the LSU athletic department are having a little fun this April Fools’ Day.”[/quote]

    The turf will be installed by Turfus and Sons, a subsidiary of Vandalay Industries, which is the largest producer of the rubber material found underneath dangerous playground equipment.

    “Partnering with LSU just makes sense,” said Art Vandalay, the President and CEO of Vandalay Industries said. “We’ve been speaking on the virtues of colored turf for years at various conventions and we finally have the perfect partner in LSU. The field is going to be amazing. Although we have never done a project with our turf on anything more than municipal parks, we are confident that ‘Tiger Turf’ is going to be a staple of all collegiate athletic fields. The possibilities are endless. I see a future where grass will cease to exist.”

  • interlockingtc | May 9, 2010 at 5:30 pm |

    Nice tribute to your mom, Paul.

    My mom spent the day watching her beloved Twins win.

  • Tony Miller | May 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm |

    This Braden kid would be pretty darn impressive if he could properly dress himself.

  • Ian | May 9, 2010 at 7:40 pm |

    Paul,

    Your heartfelt post today truly brought a tear to my eye. Having lost my mom 9 years ago, this day is always bittersweet for me. But after reading your words, I think I get it now — how what we do is truly a reflection on those who brought us into this world.

    Thank you kindly!

    Ian

  • Bob Loblaw | May 9, 2010 at 8:09 pm |

    [quote comment=”389464″]beautiful post, paul…thanks for the day off — hope your day with mom was special

    i’m off now to spend the rest of the day with my mom, who, despite all of the grief she has given me over the years, only does it because she loves me so

    in the words of Washington Irving:

    A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.

    everyone have a great day, with or without your mom[/quote]
    This is great! Thanks for the great post and many thanks to Paul for his great entry today. This past week I’ve been with a heavy heart having lost my job–but being with my parents still transports me to a time when I was young, carefree & if I behaved I’d get a Carvel ice cream in the Met’s helmet. :)
    Everyone have a Wonderful Day!

  • Daniel | May 9, 2010 at 8:20 pm |

    Tony and Paul will both appreciate this:

    my wife, who will become a mother this year, was beside me when the celebration of the historic moment in Oakland came on the tv and before I could even begin to explain the rarity of the perfect game she asked, “why are all those men wearing pajamas?”

  • mtjaws | May 9, 2010 at 9:50 pm |

    My Mom isn’t a sports fan, but she has always gone to the games, helped out, and learned all about them as I explain it. After seeing her hate baseball games, I finally took her to a hockey game this year, and it was “much better”!

    She has always been supportive, and is fun to be around, with sports or not. It’s funny how Moms adapt to our interests!

  • Rob Ullman | May 9, 2010 at 10:39 pm |

    Beautiful post today. Just about says it all!

  • John S. | May 10, 2010 at 1:13 am |

    Great post, Paul. I hope your mom made an exception to read this one post on a sports-related computer site. She wouldn’t regret it.

  • The Hemogoblin | May 10, 2010 at 1:34 am |

    This is so true, Paul. I think, in a lot of respects, your best writing has nothing to do with sports. This is just more proof. You have an innate ability to relate to people.

    Side note: You should definitely get a pair of stirrups with the stereotypical “mom” tattoo on the side. (Okay, maybe that’s me being ridiculous.)

  • Nick | May 10, 2010 at 2:23 am |

    Mr Lukas- I have been reading you for years, im a 27 yr old f/ WI & this is my favorite thing you’ve posted, thanks. real people are my fav!

  • Rob Leavell | May 10, 2010 at 10:23 am |

    got something in my eye…