RAMON PRESSON: Mothers never retire from the job

RAMON PRESSON: Mothers never retire from the job

Mother’s Day spending this week is expected to total a record $25 billion, up from $23.1 billion in 2018.

This is according to the National Federation of Retailers who apparently have spending spies at every cash register and at every website checkout page in America.

Yesterday I mentioned the $25 billion figure to my mother who replied, “Yes, and I’m worth every penny of it. Don’t you agree?”

After a fumbled response I changed the subject to NASCAR and her local weather. Weather is always a safe and ready topic to engage in with aging parents. “You been getting any rain?” is a conversation starter that’s like lighter fluid on charcoal. It only takes a spark …

In addition to meteorology I can keep my Mom going lap after lap in conversation about the most recent NASCAR race. We are in agreement about our dislike for the Busch brothers. For the uninformed, that’s Kyle & Kurt, not George W & Jeb. We also bond over our mutual and eternal adoration of The King. I’m speaking of Richard Petty, of course.

Resistance to retirement

I recently sent Mom a newspaper article about Franklin’s Darrell Waltrip announcing his retirement from race broadcasting. I haven’t seen her this disappointed about somebody’s retirement since Brooks & Dunn called it quits in 2010. Well, she did take it pretty hard when George Strait stopped touring in 2014. Lord help us if Alan Jackson decides to trade in his guitar for a rocking chair.

My mother did not go gently into her own retirement. After working 56 years for the same law firm she finally said goodbye to the attorneys she helped raise. Once when someone asked Mom how long she had been working at the firm she replied, “Well, let’s see, I assisted on the first draft of the Magna Carta …”

Work and education

Frances Shelton had known nothing but work since she was child. The oldest child of tobacco tenant farmers, she worked in the fields and around the farm as far back as her memories take her. She remembers her Daddy saying, “If you can play, you can work.”

One of the few arguments she remembers her Mama winning was overruling her husband and insisting that Frances be able to stay in school. At that time, it was common for rural poor families to pull kids out of school before the 8th grade to work on the farm. My mother graduated from high school. Her younger brother dropped out well before the 10th grade to go to work.

My mother has affirmed every step of higher education I’ve taken. From getting a Bachelor’s degree to going for my Master’s to completing my doctorate she made clear her support all along the way. It occurred to me just now that I didn’t get every toy I asked for, but I don’t recall wishing for a book that I did not receive. In retrospect I believe my Mom saw every book as an investment, not an expense.

Books and work

And oh, how I loved to order books a few times a year through the Weekly Reader back in elementary school. It was like Christmas in October and April on those days the teacher unpacked the boxes and handed us the books we ordered. Amazon 2-day delivery will never be able to compete with the 2-week anticipation and finally getting the books you picked out of the Weekly Reader catalog.

So, I will credit my mother for my love of books or blame her for my book addiction, depending on your reaction to my overcrowded bookshelves. And I’m doing work that I love — counseling and writing — from which I might never choose to retire. Both those vocations were encouraged by a mother who was a single parent the entire time, who along the way certainly must have felt weary and tired in parenting, but never retired early from parenting.

And for that I am ever grateful.

Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at ramonpresson@gmail.com. To read Presson’s previous columns go to www.franklinhomepage.com/?s=ramon+presson

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