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Mom by the numbers

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Five was the number of children Mom had. Just how she took care of all of us will forever remain a mystery.

During my 18 years at home, she cooked over 19,656 meals, cleaned and folded over 13,000 loads of laundry and still had time to be a loving wife for over 33 years. What an amazing feat.

But we all know that moms are more than just numbers.

Countless are the times Mom was there with hugs when things went wrong. And with five kids, things were always going wrong.

A day didn’t go by without one of us needing a hug. Bloody scrapes, fights with Down the Street Bully Brad, and nightmares in the middle of the night — all were huggable events. No matter how exhausting her day had been, Mom always had enough energy to end ours with a hug at bedtime.

Countless are the times Mom taxied us to school events, sat and waited, then taxied us back home again. Countless too were the times we depended on Mom to cheer us to victory at our competitions.

During wrestling matches, football games, or track meets, I could always look up and find her in the bleachers. Her cheers and smiles gave me the confidence that I lacked. Her being there and her support made all of her kids better athletes, and years later better adults.

Countless are the times she held us when we were sick and rocked us back to sleep. Too numerous to count are the times she watched over us at night, placed a cool washcloth on our foreheads to help break fevers, or simply held our hands. Kisses to help heal booboos, bumps, and broken hearts were endless. Mom kisses always made things feel better.

Countless are the examples she showed us about how to be a loving and caring parent. I can only hope that I’ve shared some of her love with The Boy throughout the years and that her love will live on to encourage future generations of our family.

As countless as the ways Mom made us happy, there was something else I could count about her – the number of times I remember her crying. The first was when she lost one of her sons forever. I remember she cried for a very long time.

The second was years later. One son was finally found who was feared also to have been lost forever.

The third was when I came home from college and announced I was going to join the fire department. She thought the job too dangerous for her little boy, hugged Dad, and started to cry.

What is my wish for you this Mother’s Day? Spend some time to really get to know the person who has worked so hard taking care of you since day one.

Moms are much more than just numbers. What they have done for us and the ways they’ve improved the world add up to far more than anyone could ever count.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, is in his third decade as a firefighter and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]

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