Despite all my efforts, I’ve come to the realization this weekend that I’m a failure in one aspect.
I try to eat right, exercise and do chores around the house. I give my best effort at earning an honest day’s living and always leave a healthy tip for waiters and waitresses. I even pay my taxes and vote in most elections.
But my one glaring black mark was in the spotlight this weekend: I’m a bad son.
No, I’ve not stolen money or taken items from my mother, or caused any type of physical harm. Instead, I’ve ignored the fact that time gets away, and you can never get it back.
For the past two years, I’ve gone to more games, council and school board meetings than I can count. During this time, I used holidays to make hurried phone calls to my mother while also thinking of the hundred other things I needed to do.
She’d fill me in about the failing health of family members, the soupy weather in East Texas and her ever-growing garden.
Usually, I’d end the phone call with an empty promise to make the drive four hours to the southeast to visit, despite knowing that I’d find some excuse not to go – work was the usual cop-out.
In the past month, my crafty older brother devised a scheme to get our other brother and I to journey to East Texas, unannounced, to surprise her. We’d also kidnap her to take her to Shreveport to pull a few handles on the slot machines.
Saturday, we showed up on her doorstep. My brother had told her the day before that we were going to play golf. She asked how we got so off course – obviously she’s not seen us play lately.
We visited through the evening. An uncle brought over pictures to embarrass us with, and we got to hear more than a couple of family tall-tales – complete with alligators.
My mom, at one point, asked if we knew what the date was. While trying not to be obvious, we shook our heads yes, as she pointed out it would have been the 48th anniversary for her and my late father – the glue that once brought us all together almost daily.
As Saturday turned to Sunday and we embarked to Louisiana, my mother’s new husband pulled us boys aside and thanked us for the surprise visit and for lifting my mother’s spirits.
It was something that was badly needed as she spends much of her time driving her stepdad to doctor appointments.
Over at the casino, none of us struck it rich. But a lesson learned from a weekend of putting aside my own selfishness to be a good son was worth more than gold.
I hope I don’t revert to being that bad son who waits two more years to visit – or worse, until time runs out – to show some gratitude.
Richard Greene is sports editor of the Messenger.