Thankful to the mothers in my life

Jeff Birchfield • May 12, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and it’s a time to reflect on the role of some of the mothers and grandmothers in my life.

Obviously, I can’t do it justice in the space of a newspaper column, but I think about how much I appreciate my mom and my ex-wife, who is a great mother to our children. I also think about my grandmothers and going to their homes in North Carolina.

My mom, Carolyn Birchfield, is one of the most loving people I know. She’s someone enjoys life, often laughing and cutting up. She’s an outgoing personality who enjoys a good joke as much as anyone I know.

With my dad working as a truck driver, my brother and I spent a lot of time with her. In the days before the internet, she always made home life fun. She was always there to support us at basketball practices and games, although she was brutally honest and would tell you if you didn’t play well.

Some of my best memories included my mom and couple of my older cousins, Deb and Larry Ledford, who would often come to stay with us.

In the 1970s, I remember listening to my cousins’ different vinyl records. My cousin, Deb, liked the different soft sounds like Abba, while Larry was into the Southern rock groups like Lynyrd Skynyrd.

As for my mom, she was a big Conway Twitty fan as were a lot of women of that age. She also played her old favorites, like Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party.”

When my mom wasn’t working, she often stayed occupied by crossword puzzles, similar activity books and putting together jigsaw puzzles. It was something we would do together, as well as playing cards and board games.

It’s something passed down, as some of the best memories with my daughter is playing UNO with her.

Fast forward to today, my mom still enjoys watching basketball and game shows on TV.

Before the days of Wikipedia, one of the best things my parents ever did was buying a set of World Book encyclopedias. It gave me an inquisitive nature, which in part I’m sure led to my future occupation.

I remember my mom being a hard-working lady, who would help when we were working in tobacco, putting up hay or whatever jobs needed to be done on the farm.

She has always been an exceptional cook, one not afraid to experiment with new dishes.

Her homemade lasagna, potato salad and some other dishes are as good as any I’ve had anywhere.

It’s funny that food is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my grandmothers.

My Granny Birchfield always made fried chicken that had my cousins from Maryland and Pennsyvlania mouth’s watering as soon as they hit the door.

My Grandma Pittman had a couple of other specialties. I still remember her little home in the Cane Creek community of Bakersville, N.C. having beans strung up throughout the house. From those, she made shuck beans and she also made the old-fashioned fried apple pies that were filled with apples and cinnamon, and so hard to stop eating.

With my ex-wife Sheila, I think about her being a loving mother to our kids.

Often as a sports writer, I’ve promoted other people’s kids while neglecting time with my own kids. My ex-wife was there to spend time with them.

When I worked part-time at the golf course, often working Sunday mornings, mowing greens or changing the pins, she kept the kids in church. While no one is the perfect parent, I think our kids have always known how much we love them.

You hear the jokes about mother-in-laws, but I had a great mother-in-law, who was a terrific old-fashioned cook like my grandmothers. I always looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas where she had the traditional meals of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and all the fixings.

All the great mothers in my life, I truly appreciate them and celebrate them on Mother’s Day.