A right cross; with love


I loved my mom more than anyone or anything on earth. We always had a special bond, and when she passed away in 2019 at 92 years old she was still my Mombest friend. We were always sort of on the same wavelength, and that’s probably because I was her favorite. On a related note, you might not want to mention that to my sister.

Want a straight answer? Ask my mom and you’d get one. She was always brutally honest and really wasn’t one for sugarcoating things. It’s one of the many things I loved about her, because what more could you really ask for?

Mom always loved me absolutely and unconditionally. And she was always, without fail, there for me. Even when I had no right to expect it, she believed in me.

But that doesn’t mean I was always treated with kid-gloves. Sometimes I was treated with no gloves, which you’ll hear about later.

One summer my mom took me aside and said she had something important to ask me. She then proceeded to tell me she’d been offered the fifth grade teaching position, a class of which I was to be a part. How would I feel about this?

Are you kidding? Having my mom as my teacher? Su-weet! This would be like having a year off! Let’s do this!

She paddled me the third week of school. I mean really paddled me. I’m pretty sure it was three whacks. I begged her not to do it, to wait until we got home, to please not humiliate me in front of the class.

No go. She walloped the living heck of me. Did I mention it was three whacks?

In retrospect I know exactly what she was doing. Number one, I was being an idiot, thinking I could take advantage of the situation. I deserved it. Number two, she was proving a point to the rest of the class – everyone will be treated equally.

Point proven, Mom.

But back to the “no gloves” thing. I was probably, oh, maybe 13 or 14, and my mother was in the kitchen doing dishes. I was apparently in a playful mood. She? Apparently not. For whatever reason I got in a boxing crouch and began hopping around her, feigning jabs and hooks, not making contact but coming close.

After a minute or so she asked me to stop, but I kept it up, even throwing in the occasional uppercut just for kicks. Then she turned around, and as she wiped her hands on a dish towel said this: “Stop it. Now.”

But I kept it up. Why, you ask? I guess I was just young and dumb. You know, as opposed to now, when I’m old and dumb. For whatever reason I kept it up. Well, for a few more seconds anyway.

I didn’t really see the punch coming, but I’m pretty sure it was a right cross because it connected on the left side of my jaw. The next thing I knew I was flat on my back, knocked out of the kitchen and onto the living room floor.

Mom just went back to drying the dishes.

In retrospect, I should’ve known better. Mom grew up on a farm with two brothers. She was tough as nails.

I guess in today’s world, where paddling in schools has been banned and spanking children is considered barbaric, my mother would be considered a terrible teacher and parent. Shoot, she’d probably be reported to the authorities and somebody would have to step in and “save” me. But had they done that, how could mom have saved me so many times in the years to come?

Ha! Save me from my mom? I would have liked to seen them try.

Dave Shoemaker is a retired teacher, athletic director and basketball coach with most of his professional years spent at Paint Valley. He also served as the national basketball coach for the island country of Montserrat in the British West Indies. He lives in Southern Ohio with his best friends and companions, his dogs Sweet Lilly and Hank. He can be reached at https://shoeuntied.wordpress.com/.

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