I can’t hug her. It’s my Momma’s birthday, and I can’t hug her.
We are under a shelter order and practicing social distancing as a family. My wife’s role as a medical professional makes my embrace dangerous.
So there will be no cake. There will be no pictures with the grandkids.
There will be hard times, but as I sit here thinking of her and the things she taught me about life, I know there are better things to come.
“It is OK to say ‘I don’t know.’”
Momma drilled this into me growing up. When I was little, I would make up answers if I didn’t have them. She’d let me rattle off my baloney, but when I finished she’d say, “You know, it’s OK to say ‘I don’t know.’”
That advice has served me well. It let me eventually be OK with saying “I don’t know how to operate that forklift.” “I don’t know how to tune my guitar.” “I don’t know how to find stability in life.”
In a world full of blowhard know-it-alls, who will lie to try and keep from looking stupid, she taught me the truly stupid thing is to be afraid of looking stupid.
“Be the bigger man.”
The way my Momma says this one always comes across as “Do the right thing.”
The right thing is often the hardest to do – like giving an apology when the anger I’ve been blinded by keeps telling me I should receive one. Or putting in the extra work needed to get the job done when all I want to do is say “I quit” and go home.
I am a big man, but her words have made me a bigger one and a better person.
“It’s gonna be alright.”
You wouldn’t believe the days we’ve gotten through as a family because of those four simple words. My brothers and sisters have all heard them. She’s said them to me during sickness; when I’ve lost jobs; when my heart was broken.
So far she hasn’t lied. Even through the darkest times and roughest seas, we have came out on the other side “alright.”
It seems during this global trial that everything I do or think somehow relates to what we are all going through. My Momma’s words do.
Right now, a lot of us are having to say “I don’t know.” We don’t know how long this will last. We don’t know how bad it will be. We don’t know how we’ll get through it, but we will, and it will be “alright.”
Somewhere on the other side of the tunnel we are traveling through together, there are better days ahead. We will come out the “bigger man.”
When we do, there will be cake. There will be pictures with grandkids. There will be hugs.
Will Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville.