A rubber rat, a pet turtle and Mother’s Day

My brother went to New York City when I was in the third grade and brought back a rubber rat as a souvenir for me.  

I loved the rat. It was the perfect gift. My mom hated it.

There is something you should know about my sweet dearly departed mother. While from time to time she may have sung slightly off key the great hymn “All creatures of our God and King…” she didn’t mean it. The truth is she hated God’s critters.

 She hated mice.

She hated lice.

She hated rats.

She hated bats.

She hated snakes.

She hated bugs.

She hates things

that hide under rugs. (I feel like Dr. Seuss).

Knowing this fact did not prevent me from strategically placing my New York souvenir throughout the house. For instance, I would put my rat in the cheese tray of our refrigerator (a perfectly legitimate storage place for a rubber rodent), and then I would wait for my mom to get some shredded cheddar. At the moment of discovery, my mom would let loose a scream that would make the producers of any cheap horror flick proud. No matter where I was in the city, I knew my rat had been found. The woman could holler. My mom knew the rat was rubber, still she would scream every time as if she encountered a living and breathing cousin of Chuck E. Cheese.

One day my rubber rat went “a missing,” and while my mom never claimed responsibility for the disappearance, looking back now I do recall a hint of a smile whenever I inquired on the whereabouts of my rubbery friend.

My poor mother endured much more than the “old hidden rubber rat trick.”  There were trips to emergency rooms (my brother found himself there more than the rest of us); refereeing sibling arguments (after one disagreement, she made my sister and brother hold hands and smile at each other. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment!); there were meals to prepare (her specialty: stuffed cabbage); sporting events and concerts to attend; cleaning, laundry and all the other household duties; and while not loving the critters she still welcomed into our family dogs, hamsters, turtles, fish and a salamander named Sam. (One lesson learned: Don’t attempt to teach your pet turtle how to fetch in the driveway, at the same moment that your mom is returning home from the grocery store. That story does not have a happy ending—especially for the turtle. Let’s just say, he never learned to fetch.). All this to say my mom earned each and every white hair on her head.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day! It’s a day to honor all our moms (white haired and otherwise) and to tell them thanks for all they have done.   So take time to say “Thanks”– even if your mom accidentally squished your pet turtle or in some other way was less than perfect. Don’t let Mother’s Day pass without thinking of and/or praying for the lady that brought you into the world and in most cases did so much more. Or if you are like me, and your mom is no longer on planet earth— remember the happy times, let go of the bad times and rejoice that God is Lord of all!


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