This time every year our family would be dusting off our picnic baskets, and getting our large blankets ready. Beginning with Mother’s Day, the family treks to the track would begin. Now, that’s not to say there weren’t a few dozen more in between the dates, but the day that honors dear old mom was the kickoff.
I started my day with a call to my mother. She is 70-years-young, and was up and busy on her small farm. She had done more by 9:00 a.m. than I will get finished by next Tuesday, but I digress… If you have time to call your mom today, do so. For our friends who are not able to make that call, mom would have wanted you to take the time and wish everyone in your world a good day. It is probably the toughest job in the world, and the pay is smiles, hugs, and “I Love You’s.”
My mother was born into a racing family. Mostly small time claimers, and cheap runners to root home. Her uncle, father, and eventually my dad were frequent visitors to the track. Mom would always be in charge of the picnic basket filled with fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, and a sweet dessert. This was the official start of the picnic season. My grandparents, mother and father, and younger brother would gather under the large maple tree at River Downs. My grandpa would make his double bets, and light up one of the worst smelling cheap cigars known to man. He would skip the main fare and work his way right into the sweets. My brother and I would play ball with the other kids who came to the track. It was a family day, and as the years rolled on I became more interested in the races.
Mom would do it all, and the men folk would gather their forms and money. The kids had the easy part of playing in the sun, and delighting on delicious fried chicken. The dates would come and go over the years, as they would be Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Our family gathered around the races and could always be found under the shade tree. Over the years we lose our loved ones, and these days remain stamped in my memory forever. The big wins, the long ride home, and smell of his Dutch Master cigars. I can tell you a million stories, and I am sure you have many of your own. This was time as a youth, and eventually into a young man who became intoxicated with the sport. If you have time and are able, give mom a call. Everyday should be Mother’s Day, but this one is marked in the books. Take your time and savor the days.
As I sit in the announcers booth above the new Belterra Park, days like these take me back to a simpler time. We would gather and pile into the car, and celebrate our time together. Make that call if you are able, or make the time to wish others a Happy Mother’s Day. It is only the first of many for the season, and we don’t want to miss one opportunity. – Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!