All I own for one more day

Published 6:40 pm Sunday, April 30, 2023

By Steve Stricker

This Oxford is Camelot, my forever home since 1988. I’ve worked on campus 15 years and had my “sanctuary” house built in 2000.

Yesterday the 26th annual Double Decker Arts Festival kicked off for the weekend, and the University of Georgia baseball team is in town for an SEC 3-game showdown with our Ole Miss Rebels. GO REBELS!

Email newsletter signup

So, with all that delightful stuff going on, as Facebook asks: “What’s on your mind, Steve?”

I’m really missing my hero mom, Gert, who would often say: “Your life is like a soap opera…I’m going to stick around to see how it turns out!” My three older sisters credit her sticking around for 95 years to waiting for that moment.

A nurse, Gert regularly described hospital stuff at meals – so we associated gore with food and I often think I should have been an M.D. instead of Ph.D.

Gert was beautiful. A photo of her in nursing training is stunning. She grew up on a small farm in Southern Missouri where they raised or grew everything needed to sustain them, including through the Great Depression. Many of my early fond memories are being at Grandmas.

Daddy died shortly after my 18th birthday, weeks before beginning my freshman year in college. Gert, who became my mom and dad, said “Just make D’s” and she would be happy.

Pressure off, I made her happy that awful freshman and sophomore year. I squeaked out with my degree, was drafted US Army, went to Vietnam, and a whole another soap opera story began. “I thought you said you were safe!”

Mother, an artist, would gather flowers from our yard, make an awesome table decoration; a fabulous cook, she turned great leftovers into banquets. She attended Mass every day, and was my rock. We laughed a lot together.

Gert taught me faith, to be tough, soft, caring, conservative, and was proud of her “Doctor” son.
The youngest, and only boy with three older sisters, mother’s “favorite child” was spoiled, and I’ve dearly paid for it because it took me a long time to grow up. I’m still not there.

Because mother worked double shifts, daddy was too old, and my sisters constantly reminded me that I was stupid, I grew up somewhat isolated, insecure, but self-sufficient.

As a result I can take care of myself, but have no social skills – I am quite shy and hugely introverted. I lost Gert for a bit going through my divorce because neither of us understood, but we worked through it.

Gert said, “Go to Mass and say the Rosary every day; do you need that light on; buy a Ford; go to bed, study tomorrow; no woman would put up with that mess; drink a beer; eat a good supper; you don’t need to wash your clothes that often, it will wear them out; you don’t need to wash your car; it will just get dirty again; your three boys are a treasure; and get those junk cars out of my garage.”

Gert gave me birth and life over and over, and I would give all I own to have one more day with her.

Steve is an Army Vietnam Vet, Oxford resident, an administrator, teacher, counselor, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, and can be reached at