What makes Mother's Day so special? It all begins in the womb. Our first heartbeat comes from mom. For nine months or so we are part of her. From the first moments after we see the light of life we remain attached to the woman who carried us, nurtured us and suffered the pain of child birth. We are placed in her arms and from then on we have a special bond.

OK, dad did play a role in the conception. That was mostly self-center pleasure though. But the next nine months for mom its weight gain, nausea, cravings, mood swings, aches and pains, fatigue, anxiousness and everyone asking her when she is due. Dad deals with the symptoms during that time but mom experiences it up close and personal.

A friend of mine's wife accompanied him to a company reception a number of years ago just as she was about eight months along. The first time someone asked about her pregnancy she pointed toward her befuddled husband and loudly yelled, "He did it, its because of him that my feet hurt, I can't sit down comfortably and I passed gas yesterday in the apartment elevator in front of a bunch of giggling Girl Scouts!" Every woman in the room immediately looked at him like she had just accused him of being Jack the Ripper.

My friend attempted to calm her many times over the months of pregnancy, telling her how wonderful the birth would be. Then again maybe not. We won't go into detail except to say the boy was 11 pounds and four ounces and had college football coaches offering scholarships. (OK, I exaggerate just a bit about the scholarship offers). But after the ordeal my friend's wife developed a lifelong bond with her son, even though the 6-6, 305 pound offensive guard nearly ate them out of house and home.

When my mother was expecting me she developed a special craving, banana splits. It wasn't just any banana split she wanted, it had to be from the fountain at the old H&W Drugs when it was on the ground floor of the Alston Building in downtown Tuscaloosa.

Late one night she could not be satisfied by anything but an H&W banana split. She was confined to the bed by her doctor so dad got on his bicycle (they didn't have a car then right after WWII) and rode downtown. He got to the drug store just as the fountain was about to close for the evening and ordered a banana split to go. As the family story went, the young lady behind the fountain told him they didn't make to-go splits and even if they did, she didn't know how to make one. A.B. "Sonny" Hartley, WWII combat veteran in the South Pacific, man of action, told her, "I'll show you". He ran behind the counter, grabbed an empty carton cut up some bananas, scooped in some ice cream, poured chocolate and strawberry topping in and sprinkled on some pecans. He paid for what I always heard was the first to-go banana split in H&W history, peddled back to the apartment and gave it to mom. He always told me she scarfed it down like she hadn't had a bite to eat in weeks, rolled over and went to sleep. With all the excitement dad was the wide awake.

When it came time for my mother to deliver me she had difficulties and the doctor let her stay in labor for almost 24 hours. I can't imagine how excruciating it must have been. However, I was reminded of it many times in the years to come.

Through the years Audrey Townsend Hartley was 'Doctor Mom', I had almost every childhood illness known to mankind, croup, chickenpox, measles, mumps and countless earaches. Somehow the in-home visits of Dr. Dowling (yes, doctors came to your home back then) never matched the loving touch and assurances that everything would be OK that I got from mom.

Then there was the time in junior high I waited until the night before a school report was due to ask mom if she would type it for me. Even though she had to go to work the next morning, she did. Although again, she never let me forget about it.

Mom passed away six years ago at the age of 89. Yet that special bond remains to this day, always will. She was 'Supermom' before the term ever became fashionable. And I have for some reason always craved banana splits. Thankfully its easier to get them to go nowadays.

Audrey T. Hartley
Audrey T. Hartley, My Supermom


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