BOBBY BENNETT: IT SHOULDN'T BE THIS TOUGH
One would think after 40 years, one would get over the boohooing.
On August 5, it will be 40 years since I lost my everything.
Here we are on another Mother's Day, and the struggle to get through without shedding a tear is still very real.
As men, we are trained to be tough, macho, and everything manly men are expected to be. And there were some of us whose Moms demanded a measure of toughness, as mine did but on the same token gave an object lesson of compassion.
When I think of the attributes she instilled in me during my formative years, hard work ethic, a relentless approach to challenges, and creativity made me the man I am today.
Now before I go any further, let me point out my Dad was a salt of the earth person, the kind of person you could always depend on to do the right thing, such as providing for his family. I was so close to my Mom because my Dad was at work. Most of the time, he would leave for work at oh-dark-thirty and come home late at night, well after 10 PM.
With him gone, that left her with running the home and providing guidance to a young boy who could manage to get himself in trouble without fully trying.
When I look back on my formative years with Mom, I can remember her insistence that quitting wasn't an option. Maybe it was this foundation that was the reason CompetitionPlus.com survived those early years. It would have been so easy to quit.
Blame it on a summer afternoon in 1975, when I was supposed to be getting dressed for my little league baseball game. Instead, I was sitting on my bed sorting my baseball cards. I had made the conscious decision to begin living vicariously through those baseball players who had made it and were way better than I was at this stage of their life.
I was terrible, and when I say terrible, this was no exaggeration.
Back in those days, playing on the 10-under level, you took your life into your own hands. It was player pitch, and there was a high probability you were going to either take a ball to the back or head.
So how bad was I? There were no stealing bases in this league, so it really didn't matter if the catcher could catch. My coach had a serious vendetta against the umpire we had, so he put me back there to catch, knowing I couldn't even catch a cold, much less protect this umpire from getting pelted all day long from a surprising fast pitcher.
Hitting? I couldn't hit water if I fell out of a boat.
So Mom tells me it's time to go and sees me sitting on the bed.
"I'm not going; I'm the worst person on the team. No one wants me on the team, and I don't want to be there either," I said, pleading my case.
"Get your butt up, get ready, and go. I am not raising you to be a quitter," she said sternly. "You better be ready to go next time I come back."
I was, and as I expected, went out there and stunk the joint up. What I didn't expect was what happened the next day when she summoned me to the yard.
Now, in those days, we were too cheap to have a dryer, so Mom hung the clothes on a line outside. But as I walked out, she had our bed sheets on the yellow belle bushes lining our makeshift ballfield where the kids played sandlot.
So what happened next? She threw fastballs at me until (A) I could hit, and (B) I could catch. So, it goes without saying when I hit a foul ball and caught a ball in the same game - the grandstands cheered like Pete Rose and the Big Red Machine (kings of the era) had just won the pennant. Within the next two seasons, I was on the All-Star team and only went up from there.
Essentially, I was not a good grammatical writer when I started in this industry. And, I still have my moments. But I have done well enough to get to this point.
Mom always wanted to be a writer, and in the last year of her life, she set out to write a book giving the testimony of her life. Being the brat I was, I would always "borrow" the composition books she purchased for her manuscripts to use for my "fantasy" drag racing games and meaningless drag racing stats that still remain in my mind today.
I guess in my way, if that sentence didn't exist, then neither did harsh reality on the horizon.
I can always remember the same line on every one of them.
"On February 22, 1979, my life changed forever," she wrote, every time.
On August 5, 1980, my life changed forever; I now write. This was the day I watched her leave this earth headed for Heaven.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you who make a difference.