The Mother’s Speech

Yesterday was my mother’s birthday, so of course I must tell a story about her. Her birthday was always a great cause for celebration and she would haunt me if I didn’t.

My youngest brother joined the Army right out of high school.  My parents weren’t all that happy about it, surmising (rightly) that he had been enticed by my first husband’s (entirely fabricated) tales of being in the “special forces”, etc.  However, he was of age, so eventually they came to terms with it.

He did his basic training at Fort Benning in Columbus, GA, not all that far from my parents’ house in south Atlanta.  At the time he was about to graduate from basic and go on with further training, he called home in near despair.

It seemed that in order to get out of basic training, all the newbies had to complete certain physical tasks, i.e. obstacle courses, sit ups, push ups, etc.  Some new general had come in for the festivities and he had decreed that the end-of-training push ups were to be done in a different (and apparently much more difficult) way.  My brother was in close to tears and afraid of being unable to do the required number of push ups in the required time with the required form.  So, he did what all people do when they are at wits’ end–he called Mom.

She listened to his woes for a little while, then she drew herself up at the phone.  (I need to insert here that our family name starts with “Mc”.  That will give you enough background.)

“You listen to me!” she started.  “Do you have any IDEA what kind of blood runs through your veins?  Your ancestors lived in one of the worst climates known to man, cold and wet and brutal.  They lived there barefooted with only a woven piece of plaid cloth to keep them warm.  They ran over the hills screaming at their enemies and drove them back while they played an instrument that scared the life out of their enemies and no one else on earth could master.  They hid in the hills when the English would have wiped them off the face of the earth.  The Romans built Hadrian’s Wall to keep them OUT.  Those are the people you come from.  That blood runs in your veins.  Don’t tell me you’re going to get upset over a few push ups!  You go out there and kick that general’s butt!”

About that time, my father walked into the room and listened to the rest of the speech with a bemused look on his face.  When my mother finally hung up, he said, “Damn, I wish someone had told ME that when I was 19!”

Needless to say, my brother passed his basic training final with flying colors.

Happy Birthday Mom.  I miss you every day.


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