Things I Learned from My Mom – Enjoy Life

People like to hang around my Mom because she is so much fun.   She enjoys life and helps those around her do the same.    Her middle name, Joyce, is so appropriate.   She brings joy into whatever environment she enters.    (We named our second daughter, April Joy, after Mom.   She is the same way.)

The posts I have been writing about her are easy, but this one is a challenge – not from where do I start, but what do I not include!    Whether it was in my childhood or as a teenager Mom was like a magnet to our friends.

Now, I don’t recommend this today because you will likely get shot, but when I was a teenager it was a common thing to “roll yards” of your friends.   To the uninitiated this simply means you took lots and lots of rolls of toilet paper and threw them in the trees and they would stream down.   Again, realize this wasn’t something we did to people we disliked, but to those that were friends.   (Our yard was hit many times by friends!)

My Mom was the driver for our “rolling” expeditions.   She loved it and would laugh and cackle over to the house, during the event, and on the way back home (or sometimes to the next house we were going to roll).    Everyone loved her for her fun-loving spirit.

Mom at Butler High School celebrating her 50th birthday.   Dad had the clown to come up with the balloons and that is one of her favorite teacher friends, T.J. Lewter.

Mom at Butler High School celebrating her 50th birthday. Dad had the clown to come up with the balloons and that is one of her favorite teacher friends, T.J. Lewter.

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I didn’t have a Youth Pastor until the middle of my junior year in high school.   We had limited organized activities and so we made events up on our own.   Almost every weekend of the year we had small groups of teenagers in our home and sometimes a lot.    We would play a “spoons”, a card game, which a lot of people can play for hours.   The house was loud, cars lined up and down the street, and Mom enjoyed it more than anyone.

One of the most special gifts Mom gave to me was her joy of traveling and seeing new things.   Even when we were going to a specific destination if she saw something that was off the trail we would take a detour and go see it.    She is still like this!

When Paula and I were on our honeymoon we were driving to Florida and she spotted an interesting store on the side of the road and suggested we go there.   I was glad to and didn’t think anything about it at all.

We shopped for a while and then after getting in the car Paula said, “Thanks for stopping there, my dad wouldn’t have done that when we were growing up”.  I don’t say that to knock Mr. Hall, Paula’s dad   (I guess a lot of men wouldn’t want to stop, they want to make good time on the road).   But I didn’t think twice about it.   Of course, I cared about Paula and wanted her to be happy, but I learned from Mom that there are some great surprises along the way if you’ll stop and smell the roses.

Vacations were big to Mom.  Though our trips were simple, I am so glad she did this for us.   Dad went with us about half of the time as his work schedule wasn’t friendly to doing so, but I do remember the entire family going on vacation.   Mom was the motivator behind us going on trips.

Staying in a hotel was special and we always looked for one (we never booked anything ahead of time back then) with a big sign out front that said, “Color TV and Swimming Pool”.   This dates me, but that was like a resort back then!   Television sets and pools were amenities in those days.

Through the years I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, beaches on the Gulf, Disney World, the Von Trapp Inn in Vermont (owned and operated by the Sound of Music family, the parents are buried there), Texas (Dallas and San Antonio), Six Flags over Georgia and Texas, Civil War Battlefields, all of the monuments and Smithsonians in D.C., not to count all the little hole-in-the wall places we found and many others – all because of my Mom.

Of course, she didn’t pay for the trips, but it was her idea to “go somewhere different and fun”.   What great memories I have because of her love to travel and do something we all would enjoy.    She will be 75 in August and recently told me her  “bucket list” of things she wants to see and do before she dies.

Mom and myself at one of our favorite places, Orange Beach.

Mom and myself at one of our favorite places, Orange Beach.

Once, we were in Dallas, Texas visiting my aunt and she took us to Dealey Plaza where JFK was killed.   (This was only eight years after it had happened).   She took us (Melanie, Hoss and myself) to Six Flags over Texas while there.   While we were driving to Six Flags we passed by the stadium where the Texas Rangers played.   I loved major league baseball and was thrilled to see their ball park.

“Momma”, I asked, “Do you think we might can go to a baseball game before we leave town?”    She said, “Sure”.   And we did.   We all sat in the left field seats and watched the Yankees play the Rangers.   I knew all of the players and had almost all of their collector’s cards.   Even then at a young age, I remembered how thoughtful and sacrificial she was to do something for me that she probably didn’t enjoy as much.

The significance of this is that she came from a home with a very strict and overbearing father.   Everyone was on egg shells around him, she told me.   I never felt that way as his grandson, but his children and wife did, especially in their early years.   Yet, Mom became a fun, loving, and joyous person to be spend time with and blessed a lot of other people along the way.

Today, I love to travel and see new sights….to take the unexpected trails….to do silly things, especially with my family.   (I’m still working on the game thing!   I’m not competitive enough.   I like the way Dad would play Trivial Pursuit.   He would holler the answers from the other room.   That is more fun than winning the game!)

Often say I got my heart from my dad and my humor from my Mom.    I am so grateful for the joy and zest she had and still has for life.   I think I’m going to close my computer and go find something fun to do with Paula and the kids – and Mom, too!

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About familyencouragement

Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Married for 37 years with seven children and six grandchildren.
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