Love Is A Boomerang: Long Story Short | Entertainment/Life

She answered the phone on the second ring, as she almost always does. (My mother is the only person I know who doesn’t check her calls at all. If it rings, she answers it.) But last Tuesday, something just didn’t seem right.

“What’s going on, Mom?” I asked. “You look funny.”

“Well, I feel funny,” she said. “I’m overwhelmed.”

Long pause.

“What’s going on, Mom?” I asked as I braced myself for the worst.

Another long pause. Finally, she began to speak quietly.

“Well, I just got off the phone with Bill Blossom. He told me he was bringing a 10 man crew here on Saturday and that at least 10 more men, Bearcats, are coming to help get our yard and everything in shape. Right now, 21 grown men are planning to come to our house and work in our yard on Saturday. It’s just too much. I do not know what to say.”

Some background to help all of this make sense.

  • My parents live in a log cabin on a small farm in Forest, Mississippi, the town where they grew up. They are good at growing things. Over the years, they have grown and donated countless tomatoes, blueberries, muscadines, cucumbers, butternut squash and more.
  • Bill Blossom is a local contractor. He builds and restores amazing things in and around the town where I grew up, including the old train depot that still has the “Forest” sign.
  • My dad was a football coach at Forest for years and years. (Actually, Blossom was on the first team my dad helped coach in 1968.)
  • The team was and still is called the Bearcats.
  • Over the years, my parents have shown a lot of love in their hometown for the Bearcats and beyond.

This week, my friends and I have been talking about the love my parents have planted all these years. We agree that a team of 21 is unlikely to show up to take care of our overflowing yard when we are older and sicker. But for my parents, all this love is coming back to them. I’d say it’s been there all along, but now that my dad is sick (he’s 81, has multiple myeloma and a few other complicating factors), the love that comes their way is overwhelming, just ask mom.

Four days later after the phone call (in which my mother looked funny), Blossom, a resident of the Forest, and his crew showed up, along with a strong representative of the Bearcats, as my mother referred to them. Some worked until morning. Many of them stayed until late afternoon. They took care of the flower beds. They fixed the problem with the plumber that my mom was trying to find someone to come meet between my dad’s couches. They cut down the trees. They cleared the muscadite arbor.

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Keep in mind that the Bearcats who showed up on the Saturday of July 4th weekend under the Mississippi sun are not spring chickens themselves. Most of them are now 70 years old. They were high school seniors when I was in first grade. I’ve known their names since I was six, but I don’t know them – and they don’t know me.

However, I wanted to speak to some of them to thank them and ask them why they did this devastating thing to my parents.

“Well, why did he do all the things for us that he has done over the years?” Jimmy May, a Forest resident, said. “It is a closely related thing. It was like we were back on the team – pulling together. Everyone who was there was a senior in 1970 – the year we went undefeated and won the championship.”

May explained that it was Blossom who organized the whole thing.

“Now that we’re 70, we realize that there were a few men who shaped us into the people we are,” Blossom said, his voice cracking.

He paused to compose himself.

“We did it because we love it. We appreciate what he did for us when he didn’t have to,” Blossom said. “It was the right time and everyone agreed it was the right thing to do.”

Dr. Bill Pace, who drove from Ocean Springs, agreed and shared the credit with the men who trained with my dad.

“Basically, your dad and (the other coaches) put their lives on the line for us. They shouldn’t have done what they did,” Pace said. “It had a lifelong effect on me – that I had to do better and give back to others”

Love is a boomerang.

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