There is a glorious website called “Outkick The Coverage” where a very talented guy – Clay Travis – writes every day in a way that has made it a “must read” for those who love the Southeastern Conference and the people within its confines. Clay is brilliant, funny and insightful so I peek in just about every day and really enjoy what I find.
This week there was a great story entitled, “Moms, Hug ‘Em If You Got ‘Em,” which, of course, was a play on words where the drill sergeant once would yell to his troops who had cigarettes, “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.” The story was written by a writer whose name I didn’t recognize as a contributor to the website named Chris Haddock. But I was so deeply moved that I started tracking Chris Haddock down because I wanted to seek permission to reprint his story. I didn’t have far to look.
Chris is the same guy as Dr. Christopher G. Haddock, who has practiced family medicine at Erlanger Hutcheson in Fort Oglethorpe for the last 10 years. As a matter of fact, he is the son of perhaps the best track star and coach I’ve ever known, East Ridge High’s Mickey Haddock. Chris also ran for the Pioneers before he graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia and went on to medical school.
When I spoke to him on Friday he was already in Athens, ramping up with his buddies for yesterday’s Tennessee game, and he explained that “Outkick the Coverage” has a “bullpen” feature where readers can contribute their own stories. Apparently Clay Travis was so overwhelmed by what Chris submitted he put the story up there with his regular writers in a “can’t miss” sort of way.
One more thing: Chris Haddock’s mother’s birthday was Sept. 26. The following story appeared on Thursday of this week – Sept. 27 – which was Chris’ birthday:
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‘HUG ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM’
By Chris Haddock
Thirty-nine years ago a woman went into labor on her 25th birthday. Eighteen hours later on the following morning she delivered her first child. She spent the next two and a half decades raising this son. She was a ‘Bama fan.
Her own father had abandoned her family when she was in the ninth grade and left behind a chasm of missed experiences; birthdays, being crowned Homecoming queen, graduations, and the like. Despite these shortcomings she idolized him till the day he died.
His family hailed from the coal mines of Alabama so she followed the Tide and worshipped The Bear. Her father had instilled in her a love of sports at a young age, and throughout her life she shocked those she knew with her in-depth knowledge and understanding of a wide variety of sports.
Her husband and she raised this son to love sports as well. They encouraged him to play fair, always show good sportsmanship, and despise losing. At the age of five she allowed him to take her prized possession, a ball her father had caught for her at a Chattanooga Lookouts game, to a softball game to throw with his friend. When her son lost it down a drainage ditch, he was inconsolable but she held him through the tears and told him it was all right.
Two years later, after arriving home from a trip to a ball park an hour away, the son realized he had left his baseball glove behind. Sometime in the middle of that sleepless night he ran into his parents' room admitting his mistake. They tucked him into bed and assured him it would be o.k. When he awoke his glove was on his pillow . . . his mama had gone to get it.
This was a lesson that repeated itself many times through the years. Nothing could be stronger than a mother's love for her son. There were rough times as this child grew, and they spent his high school years battling for control of his life. Attempts at peace were made often and knowing his love for the man, she once bought him tickets to a show by the late Lewis Grizzard, a great American.
This son and her opinions differed wildly on most everything during those turbulent years and no tears were shed when they dropped him off for his freshman year at UGa. His presence at home was tearing the family apart. However, he was still her boy and her Bama fandom took a major hit as she became a Dawg in every way and so enjoyed calling the Dawgs at every kickoff from that day on.
She loved the game days she and his father made it to, and always enjoyed the G-Day game as a rite of spring. She rejoiced when (Eric) Zeier stayed for his senior year and mourned when (Garrison) Hearst left early for the NFL. Her joy over the epic victory over Florida in '97 came through the cell phone loud and clear that night as she told him of (announcer Larry) Munson telling the world, "I have lit the cigar!" She hated her Tennessee Vol-loving husband one day out of the year for the rest of her life.
Twelve years ago her broken, frail, little body lay in a hospital bed ravaged by cancer. She had not spoken in weeks and was only a shell of her former self. One of her final wishes had been granted as she lived to see her son graduate from medical school. It was his stethoscope that laid on her chest that night and his pen that signed the death certificate when she breathed no more.
Today would be her 64th birthday. Tomorrow is his 39th.
Happy Birthday Mom. This Dawg misses you like (heck).
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Among the comments that Chris’ story inspired was this from Jeanette Dysart Underwood of Ooltewah, Tenn. – “Brenda was one of my best and closest Christian friends. As moms of young children and teachers in the same school, we didn't often have time to have long conversations. We always went to the other to pray for our families.
“She and I had prayed together since we were in high school through a really tough time when her dad left. She spent lots of times at my house and I at hers. When you (Chris) were in my AP Bio II class, she and I had many conversations about the ‘differences of opinion’ at your house. I assured her over and over that you were grounded, responsible, and would be fine. The rifts in any household with high school seniors are God's way of preparing both parent and child for the separation ahead.
“We laughed about that later, as I had to be reminded of the same things as my boys headed out on their own. Our families had different interests in some aspects and went different directions, but it was always so good to share and catch up on both at any opportunity. She and I visited by phone most often when she would call to inform me of news/and/or prayer needs regarding mutual friends. I miss her!”