By Papa Rich
My mother, Gloria, was born in 1921 in Eureka, Utah. She married my father in 1950. She was 32 years old when I was born in 1953 (deemed late in those days). She was thrilled to be a mother—and spent most evenings watching me sleep in my crib, fascinated. Now, my wife spends most of her evenings watching me sleep, in front of the television, not fascinated (just kidding, sort of).
My mother taught me to play catch with a baseball, helping me become the greatest little league baseball player in history, self-proclaimed. She read books to me. She played the piano and we sang songs together on the piano bench. When I was 7, she started me on piano lessons. I got up at 6:00 a.m. every morning and practiced for 45 minutes from that time until I graduated from high school (I didn’t want to, but it was just easier to get it over with, as she was going to make me do it before I went to bed that night anyway). Yes, in retrospect, I’m VERY grateful she made me practice the piano.
My mother expected me to do my best at everything I did, including my schoolwork. When I gave a talk at Sunday School, it was memorized and polished. When I had a part at a school program or play, I was given the longest part, because the teachers knew my mother would make be memorize it. My mom (and my dad too) attended every game I ever played in. They attended every activity I was ever involved in. I had the best (most expensive) baseball mitt of everyone, although my parents themselves were of very modest means.
My mom expected me to be polite—and when I wasn’t, I was in big trouble. She expected me to have integrity and to be honest with her and others. She expected me to be a good boy. I wanted to be a good boy, because I didn’t want to let her down. My mom was a great storyteller and speaker. I loved listening to her tell a story. She was funny and a legendary practical joker. In addition to seeing that I “towed the line,” she was such a fun person!
As time went on, my mom was the best “Nanna” (i.e., GoodGrandma) that you can imagine. She loved her grandchildren with her whole heart. They will never forget their sleepovers and dates with Nanna. In typical fashion, she attended everything they ever did, if it was humanly possible to be there. I love my mom! Today, on Mother’s Day, I’ll put flowers on her grave, shed a tear, thank God for giving me the precious gift of my mom. She was the most influential person in my young life—and no one has been more influential.
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