What can we reason but from what we know? -Alexander Pope

Under the Wire

Life’s challenges

This story will sound like it is going to be sad. Don’t worry. It is just the opposite.

A few years ago Christmas Eve, my mother passed away. She had lived a long, happy and challenging life. A few days from her 97th birthday, she had emptied her bucket list. In fact probably several buckets, maybe even a barrel or two.

Her life was happy because she and my father were married 67 years before he passed on. Another big source of her happiness was my little sister, Pam. Adding to her source of giggles and laughs was Sue when she entered the family over 30 plus years ago.

Now to the challenging part of her years. I was her son. It seems I must have been a bit unruly from time to time. OK, lots of times.

Many of you will have shared the experience Pam, husband Ken, Sue and I experienced during the months following her funeral. That, of course, means going through a lifetime accumulation of “stuff.” Days, weeks, months went by as tasks began to shed light on what had brought meaning to Mom’s life. There were lots of photos of Hereford cattle, green grass and horses. Big in all our lives. Hundreds of pictures of family filled drawers. It was notable what a cute little boy I was. Hey, this is my story. I’ll write it as I saw it. None of the above items, however, equaled the volume of greeting cards she had kept for decades. Most seemed to have come from Pam and Sue. They are both very good about remembering birthdays, anniversaries and more, always filled with lines of love toward her.

Searching for something from me, we found a hand written note I had given her once. It summed up my place in her heart and mind. She had once asked me to put a new battery in her car. It was a miserable job, pushing my mechanical skills to the limit. After a few bloody knuckles and words I’m glad she wasn’t there to hear, I got it done.

When I returned the car to her garage I had left the note we found she had kept in a place of prominence. It said, “Mom, I couldn’t figure out how to put the new battery in like the old one so I had to make a couple of small changes. Hope you don’t mind. I had to relocate the ignition key to inside the trunk. Shouldn’t be too much trouble except when it’s raining or cold outside. Because of that change the key no longer unlocks the trunk. All you have to do is crawl under the car, pull the chain hanging down and the trunk will open. Do not pull the wire hanging down. That one is for locking the doors. Your car will start much better now.”

Your son,


Mom kept the car and the note until the end. Probably a reminder of what her biggest challenges in life were. Rest in peace Mom. We love you.


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