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Ten Gallon Hat


From our family to yours, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!


Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don't le 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such

(Willie Nelson)

There's an old joke in our family. An elderly Jewish woman took her grandson to the beach and settled into a spot on the sand. A few hours after they arrived, there was a loud commotion near the water and everybody started screaming. "Somebody help that young child, he's drowning!" As the frenzied lifeguards rushed towards the surf, the grandmother looked up from her book and realized that the boy was gone. Sure enough, as she approached the crowd that encircled the rescue effort, she saw that her beloved grandson was the victim. The lifeguard franticly administered CPR and, after a few tense minutes, the boy spit up water and regained consciousness. When the exhausted lifeguard finished his heroic effort, he looked up and smiled at the grandmother. She looked at him, then at the boy, and then back at him before saying "He had a hat."

Contrary to popular opinion (said with a smile), I wasn't an easy kid. While my brother focused on the inner workings of every electrical appliance known to man, I was the one constantly sitting outside the principal's office. When there were fumbles in my junior high football games or fights in little league, I was the one at the bottom of the pile. When there was a challenge among my friends, I was the one to see if I could get away with it. And when the phone rang in the middle of the night, I was the one that they were calling about.

I was 16 at the time and armed with a freshly minted driver's license. It was pouring rain and, after attending a party in the city, I was driving some friends back home. There wasn't too much traffic on the Long Island Expressway which was a good thing -- my curfew was ticking closer to reality and I couldn't be late (again). As I made my way through Queens and alertly paid attention to the curves in the road, the lone car in front of me spun out and quickly got closer... and closer... and closer. I jammed on the breaks, spinning out myself, before careening off the partition and coming to a stop near the side of the road.

We stepped out of the vehicle and stood on the shoulder of the highway. It was then that I looked down to see the blood that covered my clothes. Somehow, whether it was during the accident or when I scrambled out of the car, I managed to slice the inside of my wrist and it was pretty nasty. According to my friends, I stared at the wound for a moment and then passed out. There I was, in the middle of the night, covered in blood and laying in the rain on the side of the L.I.E. I was in shock.

My mom and I always had a routine. Whenever I would come home at night, I would turn off the hall light. That was our signal that I was alright and safely in bed. When the hospital called, it was well past 2 a.m. and she hadn't slept a wink. She answered on the first ring. "Ms. Harrison, this is (Queens) Hospital. Your son was in a car accident and you'd better come down here right away." I think she was dressed and out the door by the time the nurse hung up the phone.

When she arrived at the emergency room and hurried towards the receptionist, she spotted a pile of bloody clothes in a corner behind the desk. Evidently, it's standard operating procedure to remove clothes from a car accident victim but, obviously, she didn't know that at the time. She ran past the desk and started flinging back the drapes that separated each E.R cubicle, frantically searching for her injured son. When she finally found me -- surrounded by doctors -- she looked at me, and then at them, before announcing loudly "HE HAD A HAT!"

I remember being jarred back into a state of consciousness and, amid the confusion, I smiled. I don't recall anything that happened between the accident and her timely joke but, at that instant, we both knew that I'd be alright. That was 17 years ago and, to this day, each time I look at the scar on my left wrist, I'm reminded of the love that we share for each other.

Thanks for all you've done, Mom. Thank you for tirelessly raising two sons by yourself, beginning at age 24. Thank you for teaching me to believe in myself even when others didn't. Thank you for allowing me to make my own mistakes and the lessons that resulted from them. Thank you for teaching me the value of a dollar and to take pride in my work. Thank you for understanding a boy's need to find a relationship with his father. Most of all, thank you for being the creative, beautiful and nurturing soul that you are. You are truly one of a kind and I'm proud to call you Mom.

Happy Mother's day.

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