When the guys and gals in WRAL’s Weather Center say stay inside on icy days, they mean stay home.
On Jan. 11, I learned that there's wisdom behind what they say. I also was reminded that day, as I’ve seen in person, that mothers are like mail carriers. They will do anything, go anywhere, fight any force - rain, sleet, ice, etc. - to get the job done, especially when their children are involved.
That day, I attempted to scrape a quarter inch of ice off of our cars at home. Sure, the first layer came off, but the remaining amount of ice wasn’t budging. I cranked the cars and left both running for about 20 minutes, with defrost on, and finally the ice began to crumble and I cleaned the cars in hopes that my wife and I could get on with our day.
After a trip in my car around the neighborhood, I realized there was no reason to try to get to the office that day. I could just as easily work from home and be safe. Not everybody has that option, but I was glad to have it. My wife’s office closed. We were home with the kids for the day.
At the same time in Kinston, a mother took her sick daughter across the county for a doctor’s appointment. Even during conditions like the ones experienced that day, a mother knows when to venture out and when it is in the best interest of her cubs to stay put.
After the appointment, this mother strapped her child into her seat in their truck and buckled up for a safe trip home. She planned to drop her daughter off at home, then head to work at the credit union in town and begin her day as usual.
Little did she know that a tree was shading a patch of black ice in her path.
“When something like this happens, it’s so shocking,” my sister recalls.
What happened not only shocked us, but stunned us into a numbing state. News reports say that the truck slid on that patch of black ice and went off the road, killing the female driver.
That "female driver" was a childhood friend.
Growing up, she played football with my sister and me before our church’s harvest festival. She’d snoop around her brother’s room to see what we were doing when I spent the night at their house. She was one of my sister’s first friends. They met in the church’s preschool nursery .
She was no ordinary person or “female driver.”
A few weeks after this tragic event, we all ask why? I ask why her and why now? I wonder why her children are left to grow up without a mother.
When you're growing up, no hug should be warmer than that from a mother. Boys learn how to treat women by watching how their father treats their mother. Girls learn how to become a woman by watching their mother.
I'm not saying that fathers are expendable. But shouldn't all children be able to know their mother? Shouldn’t you have her there to take your temperature when your forehead feels warm? Isn’t there a better reason to have your mother leave you than “it was her time?”
I always considered Paula a friend. We grew up and went off in different directions. But growing up, we all knew one another and, to this day, ache when one of us or our families suffer.
Her family is a beacon of strength as the rest of us attempt to navigate this storm of sympathy we’re under. Her twins and her four-year-old must learn how to make cookies, how to be a woman, and how to treat their wives without the woman who gave them life.
I know children grow up without a parent, or in some cases, both parents. But it shouldn't be like that. Don’t kids, for God’s sake, deserve to know their mother?
Jay Hardy is the father of a six-year-old and a baby in Holly Springs. He's a former sports photographer and reporter for WRAL-TV. Find him here once a month on Wednesdays.