52: Mom Didn’t Play Fair

52: Mom Didn’t Play Fair

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: For Mom, with Love

Mom Didn’t Play Fair

A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.

~Irish Proverb

I checked my watch. Yeah, I had time to catch a quick breakfast at IHOP. So I exited my car, slammed the door shut, and leapt up on the curb. As soon as I pulled open the door, it hit me.

I flashed back forty-two years. During the cold Ohio winters of my youth, the last thing that I wanted to do was crawl out of my toasty cocoon and go to school. I remember being snugly curled in the fetal position beneath a mound of blankets. If I happened to awake, then I would intentionally flip the pillow over to get to the cold side, and curl up again. Mmmm… there was no way that I was getting up!

But my mom didn’t play fair. She knew how to get my brothers and me up without the use of an alarm clock.

And Mom did so with a minimum of effort. She didn’t stand in the bedroom doorway and yell. She didn’t rudely turn on the bedroom lights and walk away. She didn’t violently jostle the sleeping lumps under the blankets.

No, Mom would depart the kitchen to silently trudge down the long hallway of our single-story, ranch-style home. Upon arriving at my bedroom, she would simply open the door. Then Mom would turn around and silently traipse back down that hallway to the kitchen.

In a matter of minutes, I’d start sniffing. I’d roll over and face away from the open bedroom door. I’d place my pillow over my head. It was no use.

My brothers and I would kick off our blankets and roll out of our beds. Then we’d race down the hallway to the kitchen to find Mom’s primary weapon: bacon that was perfectly fried — not too floppy and not too crispy.

From that effort, Mom always saved the bacon grease in an empty can of Maxwell House coffee. Placing it in the refrigerator, she would use it to fry the next day’s eggs. Or she would use it to prepare her homemade mush on a giant griddle. Little more than fried cornmeal batter, those orange slices of mush were slathered with butter and then drenched with hot syrup.

That’s right — Mom even heated the syrup. Yeah… Mom didn’t play fair. And I love her for it.

~John M. Scanlan

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