Mama was the disciplinarian in our house, at least for me. I’m not sure about when my siblings were growing up because they were already drawing their social-security by the time I came along. Okay, I’m teasing and exaggerating, but they were several years older than me, so I don’t remember how they were disciplined. With me, Mama believed in hickory switches. I didn’t believe in them, but I also didn’t get a vote. I often wished she would switch...to another method of discipline!
Leroy, Jerry, and Willard, had come to spend a few days with us during the school break. They were brothers and my first cousins. They lived on a farm about a dozen miles or so from us. Back then, I thought they lived halfway across the state.
We boys were in the barn, Mama was in the house. Jerry pulled out a small block of something that looked like a brownie from his pants’ pocket. Then he pulled out his ever-present three-bladed Case, cut off one corner of his brownie, and popped it in his mouth. With a slight look of guilt and pleasure all rolled into one, he chewed for a minute, and then spit brown liquid on the ground. He held his brownie out to me and asked, “You want some bull?” I wasn’t exactly sure what “bull” was, but I was beginning to suspect that what he was chewing was not a brownie. I answered “Sure,” but honestly, I was not so sure. He cut another piece and handed it to me. I stared sheepishly at the strange looking brownie I held in my hand. My cousins smiled, big smiles, as they stared at me. One by one, they nodded encouragement, so I somewhat reluctantly popped the Bull-of-the-Woods “brownie” in my mouth. It was unlike any brownie I had ever eaten. The taste was strong and it gave my mouth a tingling burning sensation. I chewed but failed the all-important next step. Instead of spitting, I swallowed! Within a matter of minutes I felt like I was acting in a soap-opera...”As the World Turns,” except I wasn’t acting. My world, the barn, cousins, and brownie, were all spinning. I wobbled back to the house, thinking I might die, or at least lose my cookies, or brownie, as was the case, at any moment. When Mama found me lying in bed, in the middle of the day, she knew I didn’t feel well. What she didn’t know was how “not well” I did feel, or what had caused my sudden urge to pray. When she asked what was wrong, I knew I faced a dilemma. I knew if I came clean and told her why I was sick that she would say, “Get up from there and go get me a hickory.” I didn’t feel like doing either. The other option was to lie. I knew that was a poor choice and if Mama knew I was lying, she would still say, “Get up from there and go get me a hickory.” I decided to risk it all...I lied.
Many years later, after I was a grown man, I confessed. I came clean and told Mama the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I sought her forgiveness. Mama just smiled and said, “Get up from there and go get me a hickory.”
This Mother’s Day, I’m thankful I had a mama who cared enough to correct me when I did wrong. Her method of discipline may not have been my choice and has ceased to be acceptable these days, but I’m glad she taught me the difference between right and wrong. To all you Mothers who are trying your best to teach your children the same, thank you and happy Mother’s Day.
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Thursdays edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.