Always Cheer The Underdog & Other Good Advice From Mom

My mom would be delighted that this Mother’s Day post is early.

For her, being on time was as bad as being late. If you couldn’t be early, why bother?

I’m usually on time with things. Occasionally late. Never early. This drove her crazy.

If my mother were here she would never have seen this blog. She wouldn’t really have cared about it, except for one thing.

My dad has already been mentioned a time or two. But, she hasn’t.

And, that, to my mother, is as bad as being late for an appointment. I can turn from the beloved only child to utter failure with just a single unintentional slight.

So, today, I’m making things right. I’m early.

Here’s one for mom.

My dad didn’t care much for baseball. My mom didn’t either.

But, there are these two things …

FIRST, when I was about 10, it was her idea to make a birthday cake for me with a San Francisco Giant player made of sugar sitting on top of a Los Angeles Dodger “sugar man” that she had pushed into top of the cake.

“My” team squished my dad’s team right there in the frosting.

It was pretty funny.

The next year she did the same thing with a San Francisco 49er football “sugar player” sitting on top of a Los Angeles Ram. The joke was a little old by then, but since “my team” had defeated “dad’s team” yet again, it was still funny.

SECOND, and probably most important, she always, always, always rooted for the underdog.

Underdogs were golden and her reasoning was indisputable. If the underdog lost, well, it was pretty much expected. What can you do? But, if they won, then she had something she could lord over dad and the rest of the world for days.

This led to an out-of-the-blue decision one year that she would root for the New York Mets in the 1969 World Series. I was still pretty small. (However young you think I was at the time, I’m sure I was even younger.)

Mom decided that she and I would watch the Series, although, aside from “hit the ball, catch the ball, throw the ball,” neither of us really knew what we were watching. But, by golly, we were going to cheer the underdoggy Mets to victory.

Mom’s attention span for things like baseball turned out to be pretty slim.

Not only did my mother not watch an entire game, I’m pretty sure she never made it out of the first inning. As she would get up to have a smoke and move to other tasks, she would say, “You watch and let me know what happens.”  So, I guess, I became her personal Curt Gowdy. My memory of this is pretty dim.

When the Mets won the Series, they lost their underdog glamour. They lost my mom. She never rooted for them again.

But, I wonder if at that moment, the Baltimore Orioles – who fell to the Miracle Mets in that Series – creeped into my bloodstream.

Perhaps it was that decision by my mom that led to my own decision 19 years later. When the Orioles themselves couldn’t have been a sorrier team of underdogs, they became “my team”.

Like mom, I clearly have a soft spot for underdogs.

Mom & me, sometime in the post-Mets years.  She could rock those sunglasses indoors & out!

Mom & me, sometime in the post-Mets years. She could rock those sunglasses inside & out!

But, while baseball wasn’t her thing, good advice was. So, to make things right on this blog and to give my mom a well-deserved online “I love you”, here’s some sweet guidance she gave me:

  • When making pie crusts always use vegetable shortening and ice cold water. Use a metal tablespoon to measure the water.
  • When making pancakes always use an electric skillet.
  • When your hands and/or feet are cold, heat your belly with a hot pack. The heat will radiate to your fingers and toes from the inside.
  • When using your grandmother’s recipes, remember that she often left out “secret” – and essential – ingredients when she shared them. On purpose.
  • I named you for Jackie Kennedy, there’s no need to have holes in your jeans.
  • It’s never too early to start coloring your hair. You won’t look so obvious when you’re covering up the grey later on.
  • Don’t scrimp on nice clothes, nice shoes, and anything you put on your face.
  • Pets are the best friends you’ll ever have.
  • Don’t ever get a pet, they’ll break your heart when they die.  (She gave good advice, but that’s not to say she didn’t contradict herself from time to time.)
  • If you leave for church 40 minutes early you’ll have time to say your prayers before Mass. “Can’t I say them from here?”  “Come on, let’s go.”  Corollary: If you arrive early for Mass, you are entitled to leave early – directly after Communion.  Just keep walking and don’t make eye contact.
  • If you arrive for your doctor’s appointment 30 minutes early they might be able to take you early. They never did and this was one of the few pieces of extraordinarily rotten advice she ever gave.

Flash to April 14, 2013.

Editor/Husband: “Why are you working on this now? It’s three weeks until Mother’s Day.”

“Because, I don’t want to be sitting up at midnight on the Saturday before Mother’s Day trying to get this finished.”

“Oh, you will.”

No, I won’t. And, I didn’t. And, here it is.


Happy Mother’s Day to my mom up in heaven … and to all moms everywhere!

4 thoughts on “Always Cheer The Underdog & Other Good Advice From Mom

  1. What is it about advice from mom that seems to stick with you and pop into your head at appropriate moments? Thanks for sharing with your mom with us.

    • Hi Gloria … Thank you for reading! It’s amazing that my mom has been gone nearly six years and it was just a few months ago that I remembered her wise reminder to use an electric skillet to make pancakes. I guess she’s hardwired into my DNA in more ways than just biology. But, I still do have holes in my jeans! :)

  2. Wow. Every time I read your blog, I really feel we are connected. Loved this one! My mom went to church God awful early too. I posted my sassy Mother’s Day post today too. Be well

    Jacqueline (named in 1963.- I wonder who I was named after??)

    • I bet your friends call you Jackie O, too because you are an Orioles fan! :) I’m going to read your Mother’s Day post right now. So glad we found each other in the blog-world — it’s nice to find a special connection through the ether. I wonder how many times we’ve walked past each other at Camden Yards?

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