Reporter's Note: The President of the United States would like his nation’s citizens to take a direct role in the management of the country, by sending suggestions his way. When I’m not glued to the Stanley Cup playoffs, I try to oblige with a letter a day to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Happy Mother’s Day. I know your mother passed away some years ago, and having lost my father just last year, I also know how difficult a parent’s death can be. On that front, my thoughts and best wishes are with you on this day, one son to another.
I’ve read a fair bit about your mother and she sounds like she was an interesting, adventurous, and idealistic woman. So I thought I should tell you a bit about my mother, too. Her name is June, and she was born deep in the Alabama countryside, on a red dirt road; the same road she lives on today…only now it is paved.
She met my father (an Air Force man as I have mentioned before) when he was stationed at Maxwell Field in Montgomery. He was from Chicago, like you, and they must have seemed an unlikely couple. She thought he was an arrogant, big city guy; and his parents thought she was a hillbilly. But they married. She traveled with him to South Dakota, Illinois, North Africa; she held the home front while he deployed to Korea, Alaska, and Guam.
Like so many military spouses who never get enough credit for serving our nation, she did not complain about the difficulties of juggling three children. Our lives were good. We were not wealthy, but we were not poor. We laughed a lot. Enjoyed the outdoors and each other’s company. We had pets. Learned to work, to worship, and want what we needed…not need what we wanted. And through it all, my mother was relentlessly strong, principled, decent, loving, compassionate, disciplined, and brave.
She loved sayings. When my heart was broken as a boy, she told me “All sunshine and no rain makes a desert.” When my moral compass spun out of control, she said “You have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” Once, when I was very young, and in the hospital with a serious lung problem…and night after night she sat by my bedside, reading Black Beauty through a tiny opening in the humidifier tent where I was confined.
I could go on for pages; about how she testified in a murder trial when she was still a teen; about how she danced at a school while Hank Williams played; or about the rattlesnake she killed on the porch with a hoe. But I could never do justice to her life or what it has meant to me, my sister, my brother, or my father who breathed his last with her at his side.
Not everyone has a good mother, and I find that terribly sad. Because I am lucky enough to have a mother who inspires me still, and reminds me of all the unnoticed, unheralded, and unimaginable good that mothers can do.
Don’t call today. I’ll be on the phone to her.
Find more of the Foreman Letters here.
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