Mamas

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Sean Dietrich

By SEAN DIETRICH

I watched one of those TV award shows last night. You know the kind I mean. The award ceremonies where celebrities you’ve never heard of accept accolades for doing stuff you don’t actually care about.

There is always that miserable part of the ceremony when the winners say their thank-yous.

My wife and I watched one such winner wave his hood ornament around and read through a prodigious thank-you list that lasted about as long as veterinary school. When he finished, my wife turned to me and said, “He didn’t thank his mama.”

I couldn’t believe it.

She was right. Here was a guy on television, winning a major award, sporting a modern hairstyle that looked like it had been coiffed by electro shock therapy, and he didn’t even mention his mother. None of the other winners did, either.

Later that night, my wife and I attempted streaming a popular dramatic series. I am told this particular series is popular right now. Known for its “lifelike” authenticity.

In a heated scene that depicted an argument between a teenage daughter and her mother, things got out of control. They threw stuff. Vases shattered. People screamed. Lots of crying.

The crescendo came when the daughter started cussing at her mother and called her everything but a child of God. At one point the scene became so “lifelike” that I canceled my monthly streaming subscription.

And all this has me wondering what’s happened to the image of the American mom? Our culture used to respect Mama. Mama used to be a sacred institution. Mama was everything.

Once upon a time, pro football players mentioned their mamas during Super Bowls. On the nightly news, civilians inadvertently caught on camera were required by federal law to wave at the lens like an idiot and yell, “Hi, Mom!” And on ABC prime time, “Family Feud” host, Richard Dawson, could be seen French kissing half the mothers in North America.

Even TV moms were pretty cool back in the day. I remember turning on the tube to see Caroline Ingalls, Claire Huxtable, Carol Brady, Sophia Petrillo, June Cleaver, Lucy Ricardo or Wilma Flintsone.

Where did they go? And whose bright idea was it to replace them with Kris Jenner and the Kardashians?

And here’s something else: You would have never seen Elvis on an award show forgetting to mention his mama.

Elvis once told the world that his mother was the “love of his life.” His first hit song was about Mama. His mother, Gladys, is buried next to him in Graceland’s backyard.

Some other notable American mothers:

Mary Kay Ash. Mary Kay was 45 years old when she founded Mary Kay Cosmetics in 1963. She was a struggling single mom scraping to support three children.

Candy Lightner. In 1980 a drunk driver killed one of Candy’s teenage daughters. Within months after the accident, she started Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to help pass tougher legislation on drunk driving. MADD has claimed that drunk driving has been reduced by half since its founding.

And Alberta King. Many Americans have forgotten this woman’s name. Alberta King was Martin Luther King Jr.’s mother. She had a hand in changing the world. Six years after her son was assassinated, someone shot and killed Alberta while she was playing the church organ.

There is one word in the world that is the same in nearly 6,500 human languages. It is four letters. It is the first word spoken by many infants worldwide. And according to military chaplains and medics, it is the most common final word uttered by dying soldiers in every war. Mama.

Mama taught us to work fervently, to play hard and to love sincerely. She taught us to say we were sorry like we meant it.

She showed us how to iron our slacks. How to clean our fingernails. Mama gave us Campbell’s chicken noodle when our tummies hurt. She taught us to stand up for ourselves when Mark Tyler busted our lower lips on the playground. She made us biscuits.

Since the dawn of time, little kids have been shedding dirty clothes onto bedroom floors, and every day their clothes disappear only to reappear in dressers, cleaned and folded. It’s not magic. It’s Mama.

Mama reminded us to say “thank you,” to pray for the shut-ins and she showed us how to seek spiritual guidance during the final innings of the ‘95 World Series.

She kissed our boo-boos, she used a Sharpie to write our names in the waistbands of our underpants. She could fix our hair with nothing but her own spit, and cure our broken heart with cubed steak. She gave us her best years and asked for nothing in return.

Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve called her. Maybe you’ve been a little busy. Maybe you ought to pick up the phone right now.

Well, if you do happen to be lucky enough to talk to your mother today, for heaven’s sake, don’t forget to thank her.

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