Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Parker Heinlein
Outdoors columnist 

Thinking of Mom this Mother's Day


My mother didn’t hunt or fish, but she encouraged me in my outdoor pursuits nonetheless.

When I bought a canoe with money from my paper route she helped me put a roof rack on our Chevy Nova so we could get it home. She also helped me buy my first pistol, a Ruger .22-caliber semiautomatic, when I was still too young to make the transaction on my own.

Before I was old enough to drive, she would shuttle me and my friends out to a little lake in the country, drop us off, and we’d camp and carouse unsupervised for a couple of days.

A former schoolteacher, Mom always stressed school first. Consequently, my outdoor activities were sometimes curtailed due to poor grades or discipline issues. I only passed freshman algebra because a summer canoe trip was in jeopardy if I didn’t.

I know she was disappointed when after high school I chose to head out West instead of going to college. By then, however, my folks were probably just glad to have me out of the house.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by reptiles and amphibians, and Mom even tolerated my collections of those critters. She let me keep snakes, lizards, and frogs in cages in my bedroom. The occasional inevitable escape was no big deal either, although my Aunt Bettye refused to visit us for the better part of a year after hearing there’d been a snake loose in the house.

Years later, while my folks were visiting from Florida where they’d retired, a rubber boa that I’d caught and brought home a few days earlier before escaping its cage, slithered out of a heating vent in the living room.

“There’s your snake,” Mom said nonchalantly.

By then, I suppose, she knew what to expect.

My mother always made me feel special, but I realized a very long time ago that I really wasn’t, that’s just something mothers do for their children. It was my Mom who was special.

She’s been gone for more than 10 years now and while I can’t say I think of her every day, I do think of her every time I see a snake -- as odd as that is.

And I see her in my daughters, both mothers of sons themselves, sons I’m sure who are made to feel special, even if they share a few of their grandfather’s eccentricities.

Parker Heinlein is at


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