A Mother’s Day Tribute To My HeroPosted: May 10, 2012
On a warm day in 1996 I launched my third home run of the day in a coed softball league. It was one of those great moments that makes you feel like a million bucks. The opposing captain had waved his centerfielder back three times. He’d seen me hit before and he knew right where the ball was going, but the guy out there didn’t believe, even after the first two, that I could hit it that far.
When the third one went over his head, the captain jumped up and down as I rounded first. The game wasn’t a big deal. It was just for fun. There was no umpire. And the pitchers lobbed the ball in. But guys like to win and trotting around first feels mighty good.
I’m not going to tell you that I was a great baseball player, because I wasn’t. I never hit a fastball well. That day, standing on the field, I finally realized why I could hit the ball that far, and when I understood, the realization changed the way I looked at the world forever.
To get some perspective, let’s go way back to 1943.
My maternal grandmother died soon after giving birth to my mother and my grandfather had his hands full with five children, one of them an infant. With little money and no skills to care for the children, my grandfather sent my mother to foster care.
It was then she met my hero, Doris West. Grandma West had a gift for raising children and the stories of the amazing things she did with sick or troubled kids are too numerous to mention. One of my favorites is the story of her own son. He was born 1.7 pounds and given no chance to survive because incubators for preemies hadn’t been invented yet. She placed him in a shoe box, wrapped him in cotton and kept him warm on her oven door. He lived well into his eighties thanks to Grandma West being clever enough to keep him warm.
Her gift to all of us was patience, kindness, and caring. She taught life lessons that changed the way my brother, sister, and I view the world. We’ve passed those lessons on to our children and soon they will pass them on further.
If you think this is a big impact, you are right. But we were just the beginning. Grandma West cared for 56 babies as a foster mother. Changing the lives of 56 children and their children and now their grandchildren. Grandma West had a bigger impact on our world than anyone I’ve ever met.
When I began writing, I took her name to honor all she had done for me.
I left another tribute to her in the first book in my Randy Black Series, Sin And Vengeance. There is a hidden code that is a dedication to her memory. Search the book for her last name with an exclamation point after it “West!”. The message begins with the next letter. If you cross out the following ten letters and keep the eleventh and do this over and over, the text will reveal a message that is surprisingly long.
If you have read the second book in my Randy Black Series, you’ve met Grandma West. She’s pictured in Chapter 21 of A Demon Awaits as Di Stowers, a little old woman who cares for dozens of small children. Her house is lined with Mother’s Day cards because Di Stowers is a mother to many. If you unscramble the letters of her name, they form Doris West.
So what does Grandma West have to do with softball?
When I was one year old, Grandma discovered that I loved to hit a Wiffle Ball. She lobbed pitches to me for hours. She did this so much that even more than thirty years later, when a ball came in the way she tossed it to me, I couldn’t help but smash it. This wasn’t the biggest gift she gave me. Not by a long shot, but it was the one that helped me see what a blessing she had been to us all.
Grandma has been gone many years now, but her legacy will live forever.
Happy Mother’s Day to you and your hero!
I hope you can see the ripples she’s made in this world for a long time to come.