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Commentary: Cherish the time you have with your mother

Jim Shaw

It's Mother's Day weekend. Every year at this time I look at Facebook, and see hundreds of posts of people writing of the great times they had with their mothers...

--And I'm envious. When I was a child, I lived in a nice house with my parents and two brothers. Inside that house was sadness. My father physically and verbally abused my mother. They constantly fought. There are few things as painful for a young child as listening to your parents continuously shout at each other. My father also frequently cheated on my mother.

When I was 11, my parents divorced. Mom had to sell the house and we moved to a small apartment. Most of my mother's friends shunned her because they didn't want anything to do with a divorced woman. My father remained devoted to my brothers and myself, and we spent time with him every week. However, the arguing continued, often over money. Dad often shortchanged her with the alimony and child support. They went to court several times over this.

We never went on family vacations, ate at restaurants or received birthday presents. Mom was broke and couldn't pay the bills. Collection agencies constantly called our home. I didn't tell my friends about any of this. It was too embarrassing and too painful. Mom was usually tense and stressed, and I was too oblivious to figure out why. And then things got worse.

Mom had breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy, but probably should have had a mastectomy. Mom was afraid men wouldn't date her if she didn't have any breasts. For the next two years, mom was in and out of the hospital and received radiation. No one ever told me how serious her illness was. Occasionally, mom would ask us where we would like to live if anything happened to her. We thought she was exaggerating her condition. I vividly remember visiting her in the hospital when she lost her hair, was crying and trying to speak. Mom died the next day. She was just 42.

I have so many regrets, I don't know where to start. I wish I had understood more of what was happening to her and talked to her about it. I wish I knew more about her childhood. I wish she had seen me graduate high school, graduate college, get a master's degree and grow up. I wish she had seen me run in track meets and play football. I wish she had seen just one of my television reports or read one of my columns. Most importantly, I wish she had met my wife and three children. She would have loved her daughter-in-law and grandchildren, and they would have loved her.

I'm not looking for pity or sympathy. I am saying go hug your mother, and spend a lot of quality time with her as long as you can.

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