TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — One of the great joys of getting older, and there is at least one joy involved in this grueling process, is discovering you were right all the time. I try not to boast here because, well, that's just the kind of person I am. And, I'm not going to make a list of all of the things I was “right” about. No sense in boasting, but I just can't resist one.
Some of these things centered on my relationship with my mother. One advantage a mother has over her children is that sense of authority and being right all the time. Looking back, I can see she was not right all the time.
As a young person, my mother told me things I have since learned not to be true. For example:
It takes more than clean underwear to survive an accident.
The boogieman under my bed does not exist ... any more.
None of my friends want to jump off a bridge.
I will grow up even if I don't clean up my plate.
And, it's almost impossible to behave yourself and have a good time simultaneously.
My mother, like other mothers, was not a bad mother. She just had bad information, much of which she got from her mother. I'm not sure where grandmother got her information, but it too was wrong. And, when you have bad information, there is nothing more you can do but inflict it upon your children. And my mother inflicted away at us children.
This week another one of these “not true things,” was revealed. This one was the mother of all untrue things.
I must confess there is a bittersweet sense of victory in this recent announcement.
I can't tell you how many times my mother told me to “Eat your spinach. It's good for you.” When I would protest she would further admonish me by saying, “Finish all of your spinach on your plate, it won't kill you.”
Boy was she wrong. I hate to say, “I told you so.” However, the temptation is beyond my ability to resist. After all, I'm only a man. I guess I never ate enough spinach for the strength to resist everything.
For years, I told my mother that spinach was not good for me. Now, I have scientific proof as well as verification from the United States government that spinach can kill you.
Where was all this information and government verification when I was young and being force-fed spinach? Some things should be retroactive. If I could find a way to give back all the spinach I have eaten from my mother's table I certainly would do it right now. (Could someone find me a pork barrel?)
Of course, there is always the idea my mother knew this and was simply trying to kill me. No, after further thought, I'm sure that is far from true. But don't think I haven't been pondering this, lately. She had plenty of evidence to incite this kind of attitude toward me, I assure you.
My mother used everything she could think of to get me to eat my spinach. She used intimidation, arguments and a gold old-fashioned thrashing. None of it seemed to make her spinach taste any better.
One of the arguments my mother used to get me to eat spinach was good ole Popeye. “Popeye eats spinach,” my mother would taunt me. “Look at all of the things he does because of eating spinach.”
Of course, from my observation, Popeye only ate spinach when he was in extreme trouble and his life was being threatened. I tried to have an agreement with my mother that I would eat spinach every time my life was threatened. Then she threatened my life.
Her arguments continued. “Certainly you want to be like Popeye, don't you?” my mother pleaded.
To which I responded, “Yes, and he smokes a pipe, too. Can I smoke a pipe?” I did not think it fair for my mother to make me eat spinach and then not allow me to smoke a pipe. If you choose one the other comes too.
My mother was not amused with my Popeye's pipe arguement. I tried explaining Popeye's use of spinach was only occasional but his use of the pipe was continuous. This argument had no effect upon my mother, but it did cause severe pain in my left ear as she led me by my ear back to the table to finish my spinach.
At the time, my mother had a one-track mind, which led to a plate of spinach. I, on the other hand, had a one-track mind, which led as far away from that plate of spinach as possible. Only one mind could win, and it sure wasn't mine.
I listened with amusement to news concerning tainted spinach. Reflecting upon this incident from my past, a verse of Scripture came to mind. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17 KJV).
At the time of my spinach eating frenzy, my mother thought she was doing the right thing. At the time she was, much to my consternation. It's not so much what we do, as it is what we know.
— The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship located at 1471 Pine Road in Silver Springs Shores. The Church website is www.whatafellowship.com.