The image you see is the Hebrew translation of my mom’s name. Her name is Ruth and it means “friend.” My friend died January 15, 1994. She was 58.
This time of year we celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His dream for America is one we should all want to come true. However, this 40-year-old man’s body still houses the soul of a 17-year-old kid who misses his mom.
I’m generally OK. Writing about her is cathartic. It eases my greatest fear – that one day I won’t remember her as well and forget things. And since I’m one of a select few left on Earth who ever knew her, my writing makes her essentially immortal.
I don’t mean to make anyone sad, there is yet motivational gold is these hills. I hope, anyway. Ruth sacrificed for the team. The team is our family and she took losses so we could win. The Sportsmanship Guy isn’t from outer space nor was he created in a lab.
He had a mom…and a great one, too!
I recall one summer day when my friends’ parents wouldn’t let them come outside to play baseball because there was a heat warning. Ruth knew how much I wanted to work on my fastball and decided to meet me halfway.
She said I could pitch to her for 20 minutes and then we had to go back inside. I was nine. Mom was 50. Anyone who’s been around a 4th grade pitcher for more than 30 seconds knows they have almost zero control.
Mom didn’t take me deep, but she took a few pitches off the leg and off the foot. She probably would’ve done better just me letting play video games. That’s how she was, though.
Ruth bought my first barbell set. She reset my broken left thumb. She scrubbed my dirty uniforms on a washboard in the bathtub.
Mom told me I would be the nation’s first black president. Obviously, I’m not, but she thought that much of me. She constantly impressed positive encouragement and expectation on me.
Ruth gave me her last $40 to pay for a visit to Rockhurst University in November of 1993. She never saw my college acceptance letter, but her investment was another drop in a bucket she had been filling since the doc said, “It’s a boy!”
Mom never saw me graduate from high school or college. She wasn’t here for my wedding or the birth of her youngest grandchild. Man, she would love my Junior.
My dream for every kid this MLK holiday is that they have a friend like my Ruth. Every kid should be so lucky. God knows I was.