The Ottumwa Courier

May 8, 2013

Tell Mom she's priceless Sunday

Courier sports writer

---- — No matter how meticulous the blueprint, there are times when our lives are not so much defined by order, but chaos.

Those mercilessly uncomfortable periods in life when our sense of identity, purpose or place has been turned upside down and we are left feeling scared and vulnerable. When that comforting illusion of stability that keeps us sane and able to function has been brutally crushed by the hazards of circumstance. For many of us, this is a time when we seek comfort from one person -- our mother.

Mom's understand their kids -- whether they are pint size or fully grown -- in a way no one else can. While no one can completely understand another human being, mom's come pretty darn close. They can read our expressions, intuitively understand our thoughts, accurately predict our next moves, empathize with our setbacks and and nurse us through our periods of heartbreak.

Mom's acute understanding of her children manifests itself in many ways, some positive and others not so much. After all, not many of us escape the world of kiddom without hearing our mother utter those dreaded words: "I'm only trying to helping you." The comment serves as both an apology and a plea for understanding, although it's not always met with sympathy, especially during those tumultuous adolescent years when parents and children our constantly embroiled in conflict.

But, most of us, as we grow older, and, hopefully, wiser, start to appreciate our mothers for the unconditional love they selflessly provide us with with throughout our lives. With Mother's Day just around the corner, I have started to reflect on the relationship I have with my mom.

While my dad is the rock that keeps our family's compass pointed in the right direction, my mom, Ellie Heintz is the constant source of love, support and friendship that provides our family with its warmth and character. When all other wells have run dry, mom is always there to offer sympathy, support and guidance.

Mom and I have always had a lot in common. We share many of the same positive and negative attributes: The same sense of humor, the same hatred of bullying, the same terrible sense of direction, the same quick sympathy for people who are suffering, the same mind-numbing fear of parallel parking, the same feeling of embarrassment when we have to ask dad to fix whatever gizmo we broke or the the newest gadget we couldn't figure out how to put together in the first place. Those similarities have fostered a bond between us that I couldn't have with anyone else in the world. To quote the great Paul Simon, my mama loves me like a rock and the feeling is mutual.

Back when I played organized sports, mom never liked close games -- she found stress-free blowouts more to her liking. Her aversion to close games extended beyond my sports endeavors. Her behavior was the same when my older brother Erik and the Kansas State basketball and football team played. When the games were close, mom would seek refuge at the concession stand, or go for a walk in the park, or, in some cases, just change the channel or turn off the television. Yet, at some point, she would always return to her beloved teams to find out whether they had won or lost.

Earlier this week I received some good-natured ribbing about the fact that I usually got my mom a card -- a very thoughtful card I might add -- for Mother's Day. Meanwhile, Scott Jackson, the esteemed Senior sports writer for the Ottumwa Courier, informed me that the gift he purchased for his mom every year was shall we say a little more elegant than mine and he encouraged me to become a little more ambitious with my gift giving. After I thinking about it, I grudgingly conceded that Jackson had a point. After all, as Jackson reminded me, my mom did give birth to me.

But, after thinking about it, I decided that both of us had missed the larger point. Because, whether it be a thoughtful card, a fancy car or the latest gizmo that everybody wants to get their mitts on, no gift, no matter how thoughtful or glamorous, can adequately convey how much I owe my mom for the time and care she has invested in me. My mom has made so many sacrifices for Erik and I that, even if I had a million years to live, I couldn't possibly pay her back. Moms, at least the ones who truly invest time in their children, are priceless and the best gift we can give them is to remind them of that as much as possible. But, alas, I will probably will invest in an extra gift before Sunday. Happy Mother's Day everybody.