Mother’s Day is coming up, so I want to pay homage to someone I hardly ever talk about — my mother.
As far as motherhood goes, she had the job down. She was loving, just, practical and always looked after us even when we didn’t deserve it.
Over the 21 years she was physically in my life, I can remember tons of moments that have helped shaped me into who I am today.
One particular fond moment I have is when my younger brother and I decided smacking trees with large sticks wasn’t fulfilling our need to destroy something — probably the evil pretend dragon or the imaginary army of blood-crazed ninjas that constantly filled our backyard.
We were probably about 7 and 8 years old at the time and our sparring had us bouncing around the yard until we stumbled onto a cactus.
Without hesitating, we struck the prickly beast and cut it in two.
To us, all cacti were bad because if you touched them, they hurt. But to my mother, this cactus was special. It was a rare heart-shaped cactus she apparently planted.
She found the broken plant roughly an hour or two after we sliced it up. The scolding was swift. I don’t remember the actual reprimand, but there was probably a stern finger, some mild shouting, something being taken away and my brother and I being sent to our room.
The scolding is just a blurred memory, but I can still picture the cactus because we upset her. The plant had meant something to her and without a thought we took it away, something she never would have done to us.
Another moment that sticks with me is my mother coming to my defense in school.
Her help wasn’t always deserved, as I was a troubled student who loved to ace tests but never liked to do his homework. It was something that got me accused of cheating numerous times, almost had me held back in the first grade, and even had me seeing a professional physiologist at a very young age.
After fights with the elementary school principal and countless flawless tests, I was allowed to continue to the second grade.
Years later, when I was in high school, the principal would apologize to my mother and myself by saying I was one of the best students he had ever met. He was my high school principal then and admitted he was sorry for any trouble he caused earlier in my childhood.
It was a proud moment for me, and I owed it to my mother, because when I was 5, I couldn’t defend myself or my actions.
I was always a mother’s boy and that is why the day means a lot to me. I shared everything with my mother and talked to her about everything — even the embarrassing “birds and the bees conservation,” which was way too late. She initiated the conversation when I think I was 18 or 19 years old.
She taught me so much, such as if you love something, fight for it or respect others and their property.
To this day, when I experience a sad moment in a film or a book, I’m instantly reminded of her telling me she was proud of me and that I would go on to be successful no matter what that means to me.
Vicki Canales died in October 2002 of ovarian cancer, and like every mom who gives her best effort, she still deserves a Mother’s Day.