The Old Man On The Mountain

A View From the Backwoods of NH

The Sweetest Lady I Ever Knew

My Mom passed in July of 2012 – I wrote this to honor her memory

Hello folks, The Old Man on the Mountain here with today’s story “The Sweetest Lady I Ever Knew”. Now, I’m sure you all know someone that fits this description – probably a family member, close friend or neighbor. For me, it was my Mom. Oh, sure, I’ve met some fantastic people in my life. And a few even came close to the title. But Mom takes the trophy, hands down.

As hard as I think, I can’t ever remember her yelling at anyone – unless it was an emergency. But that wasn’t “at” them, but rather “for” them. I think the only time I heard her scream was one day in July, when I was about 12.

Always doing something to maintain the home, Mom was out mowing the lawn on our new “riding mower”. This was, at the time, one of Sear’s best – a 3 speed with reverse and a 36” wide cutting base (this should give you an idea of how long ago). Mom wasn’t used to a “standard” – be it car or lawn mower. Anyway, as I was getting a drink from the refrigerator (why I wasn’t doing the mowing I don’t remember) I heard a scream. As I looked out the kitchen window to see what was happening, I saw a sight too funny for words. Here goes the lawnmower riding by the window – all by itself. And a couple of seconds later here comes Mom chasing after it. I high-tailed it out the back door and managed to catch up with the lawnmower just before it crashed into the stone wall, with Mom, short of breath, right behind me. After catching her breath she explained to me that she needed to move a stick out of the way, so she put the mower in what she thought was “neutral” (it turned out to be 3rd gear) and took her foot off the clutch. When she did this the mower “sprung upward and forward”, literally throwing her off (hence the scream) and took off across our yard like a demon possessed.

She spent over 50 years of her life taking care of my Dad which, if you knew my Dad, was no easy feat. He could be head-strong, demanding, quick to anger and afraid of nothing – even though he was only 5’8” (but it was a Charlestown 5’8” ). Dad was “old school” – it was how he was raised and how he lived. He didn’t have an opinion on women’s lib. one way or the other, as long as it didn’t affect him. And throughout their life together Mom pretty much waited on him “hand and foot”. Heck, who am I kidding, she did that for all of us. With never a complaint, except for the occasional “you know, you could pick up after yourself” she went about her day picking up after us, cleaning for us and taking care of us.

Although she was never one to say “I love you”, you always knew she did by the way she treated you and the things she did for you. From fixing a boo-boo (by kissing it to make it better) to making sure we always had whatever we needed, be it a hug, a kind word, or just listening. She was a great listener, never judgmental or opinionated, just there for you. And you could talk about almost anything – even if she didn’t understand, she’d nod knowingly.

As I grew older and looked back at our relationship, I often wondered in amazement why this sweet lady even bothered to speak to me, after all the things I’d put her through and the callous way I’d sometimes treated her. One day I got up the courage to ask her, and her reply was simply “That’s alright. I know you didn’t mean it and you know better now, right?” Unconditional love. The thing a son seeks most from a mother and the biggest gift she ever gave me.

Mom taught me many things in my life, not just by speaking (although she was a quiet woman, when she spoke you listened), but by example. The way she lived, the way she treated others and the way she always gave of herself. She was a joy to be around and have around. She recently passed away at the age of 86, which just goes to show there’s no truth to the saying “Only the good die young”. Although Alzheimer’s had begun to take its toll, I’ll always be grateful that, shortly before she passed, I was able to get in one more “I love you Mommy” and with an “I love you too” our final conversation came to an end. She was and always will be my best friend, my inspiration, my moral compass and the Sweetest Lady I Ever Knew.