Boyette has come home to Aiken Standard 1

John Boyette

Happy Mother’s Day!

This is the day that we honor and remember those special women in our lives. Every day should be Mother’s Day.

If you participate in social media at all, you know there are numerous days that are “celebrated” each month. Most of them seem to revolve around our pets or our siblings. I think some of them are just an excuse to post cute pics of dogs and cats. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but it can get overwhelming trying to keep up with it.

Mother’s Day, on the other hand, has been around as an official U.S. holiday since 1914. Naturally, it became a commercial event, with greeting card companies and restaurants being the prime beneficiaries.

I know everyone claims that their mother is the greatest, and I won’t dispute that. But my sister, Angela, and I really hit the lottery with our Mom. She will be embarrassed that I have written this, but Bessie Boyette has been the glue for our family and means so much to us.

She’s the one that kept us on track, made sure we were fed and encouraged us in our everyday lives. More often than not, she was the one who took us to after-school activities and cheered at our games. (Our father did too, but this is Mother’s Day and he’ll have to wait a month.)

As a longtime teacher and later a principal in the Aiken County Public Schools system, she taught thousands of children. It’s difficult for her to go somewhere without running into a former student. And she always remembers them.

Lots of boys get their passion for sports from their fathers, and I’m no exception. But Mom also greatly shaped my sports world. Some of her favorite teams became my favorite teams; she liked the Los Angeles Dodgers of the 1960s and thus I started following and rooting for them a decade later. Ditto for the Boston Celtics.

Unfortunately, we don’t see eye to eye when it comes to the NFL. My father grew up rooting for the Cleveland Browns, and I gravitated to that underdog bunch in the late 1970s. Mom pulls for the Pittsburgh Steelers, so of course we’ve had some spirited conversations about that rivalry through the years.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my grandmothers, now both deceased, on this special day. My maternal grandmother, Estelle, was very outgoing; she was a successful businesswoman who ran the popular Hornet’s Nest restaurant at the corner of York and Rutland back in the 1950s. My paternal grandmother, Rani, was quiet and reserved. She was a longtime Belk’s employee and manager during the heyday of downtown department stores. Both spoiled me terribly, and I was lucky to have them in my life.

We like to kid my Mom about all the great toys that she got rid of from my youth. The G.I. Joes, the Tonka trucks and the Hot Wheels, among others. You know, the ones that would be valuable IF I had kept them pristine and with their original packaging. What kid does that?

Fortunately for us, she didn’t get rid of the truly valuable stuff: photos, mementos and family recipes. When I first started my career as a sportswriter at this very paper, she clipped each article out and kept it in an album. After a while she gave up on that because of the sheer volume, but I’ve still got the original albums.

I’m lucky that Mom is still with us and, in this time of quarantine and social distancing, I can still visit her. Don’t worry, I am following precautions; I did go several weeks without seeing my parents in person, which was tough.

Today we will celebrate Mother’s Day, probably with some takeout from a local restaurant. We will give her cards and gifts. Or we might put the celebration on hold for a bit. Either way, we will be eternally grateful that she is our Mom.

Thanks for reading.

John Boyette is executive editor of the Aiken Standard. Reach him at jboyette@aikenstandard.com or 803-644-2364.