She was getting older. And she had her son, and her girls. But many called her mother. For many she wasn’t old enough to be their mother. But is wasn’t about age. But something deeper.
In times of trouble. Many people turned to Mother. The cold. And the sad and lonely. Those who were broken and tired. They all came home to mama. And it was a home many had never been to before. Mother’s was a safe place. A place of comfort. Few have been to a home like Mother’s.
While she loved the ranch. Those long years were full of memories. Sunsets and sunrises, cold river water and the moon over a meadow. But in recent years she had left the ranch. Her only son still lived on the land. He watcher her cattle. And yes, they were hers. When her husband died. He gave the land to their son. But she got the cows. The income from the land and the livestock had been split for years.
It was an early evening when Charles called to sound the alarm. Well two alarms really. One he was going to be in town for a visit. And two, there was a problem on the ranch. All he could talk about was the dust on his cattle. And Ray was both confused and concerned. Had he older son slipped into madness. Well, he couldn’t get it out over the phone.
The boy had never been good with phones. There was no point in trying to drag the story out now.
“How’s the weather,” Mother asked in a cheery tone.
“Dry,” Charles responded. “I was afraid to take the car out and have the sun in my eyes.”
Mother knew his fears. But it was always a little humorous how he tried to hide.
“When are you going to visit?” she asked with a mind to making preparations. She would buy new bedding for him. And a bottle or two for herself. She loved her son deeply. But he was a challenge. Sometimes he felt like he was too close. Then other times he felt like he was too far away. For many years they had not lived together of course. She lived in the city with the girls.
“I need to take a nap,” Charles responded. But didn’t make his plans clear.
“Are you coming after your nap,” Mother asked.
“Right, after your nap.” She had forgotten how clear to state her questions.
“So, are my cows okay,” Mother asked. The silence at the other end of the phone at first was a concern. But it was followed by a sigh. Charles was now the one calling them “our” cattle. But he still wouldn’t go into the problem. It would get him too worked up, he explained. And his lawyer sister would solve the problem soon enough.
But Mother had her doubts. Ever since they were children Charles looked up to his sisters. The oldest one more than the rest. He viewed her as a super-human person. And now as a super-human lawyer. But Mother knew the law was the law. In many cases there were problems which just couldn’t be solved.
A few years ago a pig farm proved the case. Along the road to the farm, Charles hated the smell. He called his sister. Who called the county clerk. Who told her in clear terms: nothing could be done. The next call was to a county commissioner. The woman also hated the pig farm, but again her sad statement was the same: nothing could be done. A call to a lawyer was sympathetic but ended in the same result: nothing could be done.
The county was helpless. And the state was helpless. Not even their senator could close the pig farm. Still today it sits along the road with its smell. When the wind shifts the wrong way the whole town smells bad. Something told her the dust wouldn’t be solved any easier than the smell.
“Call me when you get to town,” Mother said, “I’ll have your room ready.”