“No, we’re not getting a drink.”
That’s what she told me as we walked briskly by the water fountain and into the auditorium. Quite frankly I don’t remember anything about the whole incident because I was just a toddler. But I know the story well from my mother telling it.
We were traveling to a funeral out of town on a Sunday. The funeral was set for the afternoon, but we had planned our trip so that we would have time to stop and go to church somewhere along the way. That’s what we always did when we traveled anywhere when I was growing up. Back in those days, traveling like that required looking ahead at the map, finding a town on your route, figuring out what church was there, and then calling the church to find out what time their service started. Or you might luck out and find a church that could afford an ad in the yellow pages, saving you from paying long distance charges.
But you still had to call to get directions.
Because there was no Google maps. No GPS. No Siri.
It took a lot of time and effort and trouble, but it’s what we did, because it was Sunday.
And on Sundays we went to church. Wherever we were.
On this particular Sunday – on our way to the funeral – we stopped at a church I’m sure my mom had scoped out, and made it barely in time before the service began. As we were rushing in we passed a water fountain and according to my mom, I wanted a drink. We were running late, though, so she didn’t stop. She was trying to train me to not be disruptive during church services, and she knew that if I learned that it worked this time, that I’d try it again. I’d begin to think that throwing a tantrum for a drink would get me a trip outside to the foyer any time I wanted.
I didn’t forget that water fountain, though.
Sure enough, when we got to our seats and the service began, I started fussing for a drink. For a moment I probably thought the tantrum was going to work, because my mom took me out in the foyer all right. She marched me right past the water fountain and into the women’s restroom where we “had a talk.” Then we walked right back into the auditorium, right past that water fountain.
And I didn’t get a drink until church was over.
When she would tell that story later, she would berate her parenting style that day, saying “that the poor little thing didn’t get a drink after we’d traveled all that way and she was probably legitimately thirsty.” But she felt strongly about being consistent when you’re training a child.
Nothing has been more consistent, more constant in my life than my mama’s love.
That didn’t end two years ago. It becomes clearer every day.