John Grindrod: As Mother’s Day approaches, thoughts of patience

As we approach Sunday when moms are feted, my thoughts turn to my own mother, the Nova Scotia-born naturalized citizen with the distinctive name of Cavell, one of just two women I have ever known with that Christian name.

The fact that she was born in the town of New Glasgow, on the banks of the East River of Pictou and was accorded such a wonderful name aren’t the only two unique things about this lady who bore the responsibility in an era of mostly stay-at-home moms of raising my sister Joanie and me.

Like most moms, mine possessed so many virtues, not the least of which was the patience that she exhibited, not so much with sis, who was pretty much a model daughter, but with this scamp. While the most patience was, no doubt, demonstrated during the several trips to St. Charles School to hear one of the Good Sisters of Charity provide a list of my most recent offenses, there were other ways she demonstrated the virtue.

Of course, every mother who ever took on the important job of molding a boy bit by bit into a man has had to demonstrate patience. In Mom’s case, besides the long wait it took for my school deportment to improve to a somewhat acceptable level, there would be the patience needed in the clean-bedroom department and also the going-to-bed-on-time department without my slipping a transistor radio under the covers to listen to the Reds on WIMA, the Tigers on WJR or, on clear nights, the Cardinals on KMOX.

However, there is one memory in particular involving Mom’s patience, and that recollection involves our time together at the only grocery store that I remember we patronized, the Pangles Master Market on Latham across from Lima Lumber. The building still stands and is now used by Nickles Bakery.

The first place I sprinted was the comic-book rack, which was across from the front doors on the west side of the store. As I picked up each and perused the pages before putting one down and grabbing another with a flashier cover, Mom waited patiently. After five minutes, there might have been a gentle clearing of the throat to nudge me along a bit in the decision-making process for the one she would buy me.

Once finished there, I couldn’t wait till that shopping cart was steered down the aisle with breakfast cereal. For me back in the early 1960s, it wasn’t really about what was in those boxes but what was on the back. And, when I began that process of pretty much flipping every box I could around, that’s when Mom’s patience needed to be at its highest level.

If you’re in the right age, you’ll remember once upon a time, breakfast cereal was marketed heavily toward kids, and, like a box of Crackerjacks, the boxes often came with a prize. You may recall “Plastic Spoonman from Outer Space,” which came in Nabisco Shredded Wheat Juniors, the miniature license plates in boxes of Wheaties or, in boxes of Kellogg’s cereals, the small plastic subs and Navy Frogmen, which could be filled with baking powder so they could propel themselves across bath water.

However, none of these things held nearly the fascination for me that those back panels on Post Cereal boxes did. Depending on the size of the box, there were either six or eight baseball cards in the summer or football cards in the fall. Since there were 200 cards in the set, it took this young sports nut a long time flipping those boxes around to check either for cards I didn’t have or for favorite players of mine. While I’ve never been much of a collector of things as an adult, my, did I ever love to collect baseball and football cards back then.

Of course, for Mom, this required an abundance of patience as she waited for me to make my selection. It took even more patience to get me to put back the occasional box of Grape Nuts, which looked (and tasted) like gravel. She patiently ignored my pleas that THIS TIME I promised I’d eat the cereal as she gently said, “Jackie, you can get those players on another cereal that I know you’ll eat if you’ll just be a little patient.” Of the 52 virtues, throughout my life, that’s the one I’ve really struggled demonstrating.

While the comic books never survived the ensuing decades of my perambulations, I still do have those cereal-box cards. And, every time I grab one of the three-ring binders with those cards of my youth and slide one out of the plastic pocket, just to remember and to wonder how the years could have gone by so quickly, I also think of that sweet lady from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and the patience she so often demonstrated when she assumed the weighty responsibility of raising a boy to become, one day, a good man.

Miss you every day, Mom.

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected].