Last year on Mother's Day I used the occasion to show my newly gained 1960 rookie card of Carl Yastrzemski and say once again that moms get a bad rap in this hobby -- being accused for generations of throwing out collections.
I said then, as I've said before, my mom never threw out any of my cards. I don't know if she even wanted to throw them out. If she did, it was an unspoken thought.
That doesn't mean she had any interest in cards. She didn't. No interest in baseball either. But she did jump-start my card collecting habit by buying my brother and I a cello pack each of 1974 Topps at the grocery store. They were the first cards I ever owned.
That was the last time I specifically remember her buying cards for me until around 15 years ago (I'm sure she had something to do with those packs of cards I received in my Easter basket around 1979 but I didn't see any actual purchase and I don't want to sell short the bunny hopping from drug store to drug store to leave cards and chocolate eggs for all the good little girls and boys).
I was visiting my folks back then and I had just started to get back into the hobby a little bit. There was this new antique shop a couple of miles from their house and my folks had told me they had spotted baseball cards there sometimes.
So I went to the store and found a display case across from the front register. Inside were a few notable cards from the 1960s and early 1970s. Not many. Maybe 20 or so. I don't remember any of them, except for the 1972 Topps Carl Yastrzemski.
I looked at those cards with the same wonder I had as a kid viewing older cards. They seemed so impressive and unattainable in my mind. But as an adult I knew to check the sticker price and they didn't cost all that much.
I came home and told my parents about the cards. I remember the conversation. It was out on the porch where they like to sit. They know nothing about cards but I mentioned specifically the Yaz -- my dad's a Red Sox fan -- and a couple of others in case they were looking for Christmas ideas.
That Christmas, I received the 1972 Yaz card. It was awesome. I knew my mom had gotten the card because she did all the Christmas shopping then. At the time, the 1972 set was about as unreachable as some early 20th century tobacco set is now. I held that Yaz card in my hand as if it was gold.
Many years have passed since then and my mom hasn't purchased any other cards for me. My collection, though, is large and includes a completed 1972 Topps set.
I visited my mom and dad last month. It wasn't a fun visit. My mom was having obvious trouble with her memory. And she had recently fallen. To see her stunned me. She looked the same. But she didn't behave or move the same. My mom is one of the most knowledgeable people about health and nutrition who I have ever known. But the effects of aging seemed to hit her all at once. Meanwhile, my dad, who is quite a bit older than my mom, was his usual perky self.
I was blindsided by mom's condition and spent the next week in a melancholy haze.
I just got off the phone today with my parents from the required Mother's Day phone call. My mom doesn't like to talk on the phone anymore. But my dad said she's improving a little and they're working on getting her strength back and hopefully with the arrival of the summer weather (she never liked the cold), she'll perk up some more. It's really strange to see her like this after knowing that go-getting pixie of a mom for the last 50 years.
Until last month, I assumed I'd have many more years with my mom. I am now hoping that I do. I learned on that visit that my dad does all the gift buying now. My mom can't remember the birth dates anymore.
Thanks for the '72 Yaz, Mom. And for jump-starting the hobby of my life.