My mother passed away nine years ago and every year on this day of saying goodbye to her, I spend a lot of time reflecting on her and the life she gave me. Spoiler alert: She was amazing. In many ways, but one incident in particular stands out.
In 1996, I was an intern at WKRN in the sports department and was also 28 years old. Yes, not your typical intern. I was finishing up college at MTSU after an interesting experience years earlier at Samford University. They had just hired a new sports director in John Dwyer, who went way out of his way to be helpful to an intern when he did not have to be.
That year, Vanderbilt was playing UAB in football and it marked the return of Watson Brown to West End since he had been fired six years earlier. A semi-big deal. Also that weekend, Tennessee was playing in Knoxville so John and a cameraman went to that game and I said I would go over and shoot the Vandy game and get all the interviews afterward. I would bring them back to edit for whomever at the time was going to anchor sports on the weekend.
Again, I am just an intern and had gotten a camera from MTSU and that Saturday morning, I was off on my first big assignment. The game was early afternoon but I was going to get there hours earlier to get set up and make sure everything was good to go. I loaded all the camera gear, got in the car, feeling good and turn the engine on and nothing.
OK, OK, this is all a bad dream. Let me try starting again. Nothing. One more time. Nothing. OK, OK, let’s pop the hood and maybe there is a wire loose you can see because you know nothing about cars. Nothing. What am I going to do? My wife at the time was in nursing school. I had practically begged for this assignment and this was crashing quickly.
Mom. What is mom doing? Maybe she can drop me off and come back and pick me up? Yes, sad 28-year-old man calling his mom to save his tail but it is just this once. I called. She said I will be there in 15 minutes. Outstanding.
This is where my mom was a rock star. She drops me off right in front of the stadium and says, “I will wait right here.” “Mom, I will be gone for about 6 hours, I will call you when I am wrapping up and you can meet me at the Wendy’s on the corner.” “Nah, I will be right here. I have a book, don’t worry about me. Go have fun. This is what Moms do.”
OK, security will come move her at some point and I will meet her at that Wendy’s. Whew, I am here.
Fast forward about six hours and Vandy wins. I get all the interviews and head out from the stadium to the Wendy’s on that corner. No mom. I told her when I called at halftime what time I would be there and she was not there. Instead of calling, I had this voice telling me to walk back up where she dropped me off hours earlier.