Commonwealth Journal


May 10, 2014

Flooded with Mother’s Day memories

Somerset — Today is Mother’s Day and I’ll be spending it with my wife, Tricia, who is without doubt one of the best moms I have ever seen. I love watching her and my little girl, Carly, have Play Doh tea parties and sing-a-longs. I’ve loved watching her help raise our two boys (her son Adam and my son Chase) over the decade-plus we’ve been a blended family.

I have also been fortunate enough to watch my two adult daughters, Rachel and Brittany, grow into wonderful young women and spectacular mothers to my six grandchildren.

Rachel has the girls (Maddy, Kelsey, Lyndsey and Sophie) and Brittany has the boys (Brendon and Boothe).

Put us all together and we have quite the wonderful family.

If there is one regret I have on this Mother’s Day it’s that my mom, Georgia Belle Neal, is not here with us.

Mom was a “late-in-life” first-time mother when I was born in 1960. Back then, it was not common for a 44-year-old woman to have her first child.

Needless to say, I was a surprise. My folks had simply assumed that mom could not bear children. You can imagine their shock when I came along.

It had to be difficult for two middle-aged folks (my dad was 51 when I was born) to raise a child during the turbulent 60s and 70s when ”generation gap” was a buzz phrase. Heck, me and my parents were two generations apart!

But somehow we got along just fine. I would often laugh when friends and acquaintances would mistake mom and dad for my grandparents.

Mom was not so amused.

I never felt like they were “older.” They were just mom and dad — and I would have not traded them for anything.

The example they set certainly gave me confidence when Tricia and I welcomed Caroline Belle (Belle is indeed a nod to my mom) into our lives in 2008 — right before I turned 48.

When the other coaches of my little league team were in their 30s, my dad was 60. When the moms in my Cub Scout group were in their 30s, my mom was in her 50s.

It didn’t matter. Not to her or me.

I only hope Carly will feel the same way down the road about her old dad.

When I became a young parent, my mom and dad were a stabilizing force in the development of my oldest daughter, Rachel. It was Rach who dubbed mom “Gee Gee” and the name stuck. Even in her 70s, she was my daughter Brittany’s best buddy, too, for the first few years of her life.

A world-class mother definitely evolved into a world-class grandmother.

I lost my parents in 1994. My dad passed on Nov. 16 of that year at the age of 84 after a long illness. My mother, who had taken care of my dad for the final years of his life, died suddenly 11 days later on my 34th birthday at the age of 77.

I wish they could have seen Rachel and Brittany grow into adulthood and watched as they had their children. They would be crazy about their great-grandchildren.

I wish they could have been around to see my son, Chase, and my baby girl, Carly. I wish they could have met Tricia and my step-son, Adam, and seen what a happy family we have become.

I didn’t have them as long as many people have their parents, but I can’t imagine two people having a bigger impact on my life.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about them. And on days like today the memories are especially vivid.

Happy Mother’s Day, Gee Gee.

And to all you mothers out there, I hope you have a great day.


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