A Mother’s Day Story

May 8, 2016 2 By Michael
The Harvey Family portrait taken 18 months after Coley was born in 1987.

The Harvey Family portrait taken in 1987, 18 months after Coley was born

A Mother’s Day Story is a piece I wrote for Mother’s Day 2013. It was published at Allvoices. I was inspired to share this Mother’s Day story again after my wife took me out to dinner last night. We were celebrating the completion of a manuscript for a book we are planning to publish in July.

When it dawn on her that the next day would be Mother’s Day 2016, she said,  “Maybe you should be taking me out to dinner.”

I replied, “I tell you what, next year I will get you a Mother’s Day gift that you will remember for the rest of your life.”

We both laughed, and laughed and laughed. She never replied to my suggestion. For those of you who have read this story, you already know why. For others, please enjoy this reflection from 1984.

This story began on this day, November 21, 1981. Photo Credits: Willis Perry

This story began on this day, November 21, 1981.
Photo Credits: Willis Perry

We were driving home from church and my bride of three years pleaded her best case for Sunday dinner in a white tablecloth restaurant. It was May 13, 1984. Within minutes the New York Knicks were set to take on the Boston Celtics in round two of the NBA playoffs, both tied at three games each. 

By my calculations we had just enough time to drive home, change clothes and turn the television set to what promised to be an exciting basketball game. 

But the bride was having none of it. It was a nice spring day and she did not want to be in the kitchen listening to me yell over the roar of the television set. 

Relentlessly she persisted. 

“But I have cooked all week,” she said. 

“The series is tied three to three,” I retorted. 

“It’s too hot to cook and I don’t want to be in the kitchen all day,” she replied. 

“Come on,” I appealed, “I missed Friday night’s game because of the Revival, let’s go home and watch the game.” 

My Valentine taught my son to be a gentlemen and a scholar. Here Coley holding First Place Trophy in Invent America Competition. Also pictured is his father and Ms. Vicky Johnson, Coley's teacher.

Cynthia Harvey displaying that proud mother smile as her son Coley holds the  First Place Trophy he received in the Invent America Competition. Also pictured is his father and Ms. Vicky Johnson, Coley’s teacher. Photo Credits Senor Revis

“But I don’t want to cook.” She was coming in for the kill. It was hard to tell which one of us would be graduating from law school later in the year. 

“Well, I don’t want dinner,” I said. 

“But it’s Mother’s Day,” she roared. 

“You are not a Mother,” I chided. 

“It doesn’t matter, it’s Mother’s Day and I don’t want to cook. I want to go out to dinner.” 

I had been concentrating on driving home in time for the basketball game. Wives have a way of gaining the upper hand in social matters. The conversation was about to get out of control. I was at risk of not ever having a home cooked meal again. 

“I tell you what, if you let me go home and watch this game, next year I will give you a Mother’s Day gift that you will never forget as long as you live,” I predicted with certainty. 

She did not say another word. We arrived home. I turned the television on in time to see the Knicks, led by the league’s leading scorer Bernard King, take on the league’s second leading scorer, the Celtics’ Larry Bird.

Boston won the game and later went on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA championship. My wife cooked dinner and I had a promise to keep. 

Words are such a powerful force of creative energy. No sooner had I spoken those words than I felt a movement toward delivering upon my promise. I had the same mental impression the night I met my bride. When we embraced and said good night, I knew I had met the lady I would marry. 

When Coley took his first at bat in a Little League game, you guested it, his proud mom was there to record the final instruction his dad gave him before he took his first swing. Photo Credits: Cyn Harvey

When Coley took his first at bat in a Little League game, you guested it, his proud mom was there to record the final instruction his dad gave him before he took his first swing.
Photo Credits: Cyn Harvey

After the game and dinner, we drove out to the local Dairy Queen for ice cream. We were talking again. Time marched on and in August, I graduated from Law School. The bride was seated near me. I was able to turn and hand her my sheepskin.

She had worked just as hard as I had for it. I noticed her waist line was beginning to thicken. She had a certain glow. At Thanksgiving we broke the news. We were in the family way. 

Two days before Mother’s Day 1985, I got a call at work. “I think it’s time,” she said. I didn’t feel it was time, but it was Friday and I had had enough of drafting personal injury complaints, so I asked the managing partner of the firm for permission to take the wife to the doctor. 

It was not her time, nor the time to fulfill my promise of a year earlier. The doctor informed us that he was leaving that afternoon for a weeklong medical conference out of state, but not to worry. “None of my patients ever deliver while I am out of town.” 

One day before Mother’s Day and I was not any closer to keeping my word than I was when I made the promise. I got up and mowed our two-acre lawn by push mower.

The job took all day. After I took a shower, we drove to the local grocery store to stock up on food items before the baby came. When we arrived back home around 6:00 p.m., my bride said, “Oh, I think it’s time.”

We got the groceries in the house and called the doctor. The doctor on call ordered us to the hospital. 

Around 10 p.m., I had agreed to make a dinner run for the nurses. Before leaving the nurse checked to see if all was well. Things were changing, the baby who had been in perfect position the entire term suddenly decided to turn into the breach position. The doctor was called and a decision was made “to take the baby.” 

By the time my bride was prepared for delivery the doctor came in and at 1:12 a.m., Sunday, May 12, 1985 he handed my son to me. This brand new life force looked at me with eyes wide-open as if to say: “I am here dad. What do we do next?” I looked back at him and verbally said: “I don’t know son, but your mother will know, let’s go ask her what we should do now.” 

Coley Harvey, two years of age, gaining practical knowledge from his mother, a broadcaster, on how to handle a microphone. He would grew up to apply this skill for ESPN Sports.

Coley Harvey, a few months shy of two years of age, gaining practical knowledge from his mother, a broadcaster at the time, on how to handle a microphone. He would grew up to apply this skill for ESPN Sports.Photo Credits: Cyn Harvey

I placed him in the nursery. When I crossed the threshold of my bride’s room, that prophetic feeling I had the night I met her came over me. I knew I had just delivered on the promise to give her a gift for Mother’s Day 1985 she will never forget as long as she lives.

 

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com