It’s Mother’s Day, when we celebrate the women who blessed us with life, nurtured us to adulthood, or simply didn’t sell us to a circus when we proved more trouble than we were worth.
Everyone has a mother. You might wish you didn’t, but the biological fact is that someone — almost certainly a female — had to lug you around for a small eternity and then loose you upon the world.
I have a mother. She’s 86 and currently in an assisted living center in South Jordan. I haven’t seen her in weeks. I can’t visit her at Sagewood at Daybreak because the residents, mostly people who possibly attended high school with Moses, are quarantined.
The elderly — which my parents definitely are — have a greater risk of contracting serious complications from COVID-19, so I can’t hug my mom on this special day.
It’s not like we have no contact. I just stopped by Sagewood and left her five pounds of chocolate, some Cheetos, and a spider I found in the yard. My mom loves spiders.
Here’s the thing, though, she isn’t the only “mother” I’ve ever had.
Ever pause to consider the number of surrogate moms in your life? I don’t mean stepmothers or court-appointed foster mothers. I’m talking spur-of-the-moment volunteers.
Consider the women who stepped in and mothered you when other people would have taken you down to a river with a burlap bag and a big rock.
I ask because I got a telephone call the other night from someone who knew me 60 years ago.
Carole Hyde and I knew each other in Zaragoza, Spain, when my father and her husband (not the same guy) had been stationed there in the Air Force. I was 8 and she was — hell, I don’t know — an adult.
Outside of their own families, little kids don’t keep track of adults on an individual basis. Adults are simply “big people.” When you’re 7 or 8, even teenagers are big people.
Anyway, Carole recently moved to Ogden and chanced to read a column wherein I mentioned living in Spain as a kid. Since I’m named after my father, she reasoned there had to be a connection.
How she found my phone number is a mystery, but she called and we talked. She paid me several compliments, including how I was such an “adventurous little boy” that she gave serious thought to never having children of her own.
Note: It’s lucky for Salt Lake City attorney Rebecca Hyde Skordas that Carole reconsidered.
It was a nice way of saying that I was a demon. She specifically mentioned me crawling out a window of a third-story apartment and running around the edge of the building.
The conversation left me thinking about all the surrogate mothers I’ve had in my life — various aunts, assorted close family friends, Primary teachers, den mothers and neighbors.
I remember some of their names: Dixie, Lygia Faye, Kay, Clarice, Margaret, Eileen — women who took pity on a kid everyone else figured would be in prison by the time he was 12.
They were mothers to me when my own wasn’t available, sounding boards for troubles I was in when my own mom was absent or might kill me if she caught me.
So Happy Mother’s Day to my mom — and the other moms who entered my life when I needed one. Bless you all.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.