Ruth and her Rolling Pin

My mother was a very strong woman — strong in spirit, strong in faith, and strong in will.  She had to be, to survive as a preacher’s wife!  And, to raise our brood of 5 precocious and stubborn Miller kids.  My dad, who I love hugely, was a handful — in many ways, another kid for Mom to manage.  He was as sweet, and as pious, a man as you will ever meet.  But, he was CLUELESS!  On the rare opportunities where Mom was just so swamped and overscheduled, that she asked Dad to help out with normal household chores — like shopping or cooking, it was almost guaranteed that he would screw this up somehow.  I remember one occasion where Dad found a “bargain” on cereal, and purchased a years supply of the bottom shelf, bulk Cheerios-equivalent generic.  Unfortunately, it was so stale and tasteless that no one would eat it.  (So, Dad ate generic O’s for quite some time.)

All this being said, my Mom loved my Dad, as did all us kids.  In spite of his cluelessness, he was an attentive and caring father.  It is just that he was not always much of a help around the house, so Mom really had to manage a lot.

I have a vivid memory of one particular episode in my childhood, which starkly demonstrated both the love she had for me, and the strength and determination she possessed, especially when it came to caring for her children. I was having a birthday party at our house — I’m thinking my 10th, but not exactly sure. I had invited my two best friends, Jimmy Little and Randy Parsons, to play nerdy games (probably Dungeons & Dragons), goof around the yard, and do the cake and ice cream thing. (One thing to note — my siblings thought I was SO spoiled to get to have a birthday party at all. My family was not well off, and parties in general were not common. But, I was the youngest — I do admit to being a bit spoiled compared to my older sibs.)

At some point during the latter stages of the party, we three boys decided to go outside and play in the yard. We did a lot of tree climbing in my youth, and Missouri, in general, and our yard, in particular, was a great place for this activity. (I once counted 28 trees in our yard, when I was mowing the yard.) We were goofing around the yard, when the neighborhood bully (whose name I do not recall) came around. He was well known in our neighborhood, but not well liked. He was just a few years older than us, but he consistently tormented all the other kids on the block, mostly verbally, but with the occasional shove and threatening of physical harm. So, of course, it was not okay with him to see 3 youngsters out in the yard having a great time — he needed to intercede, just to live up to his “bullyness”. I don’t recall the details of his torment, but I do recall that he was threatening, and all three of us were genuinely scared.

Just as all this was going down, I hear the front door to my house open. As I turn to look, somewhat worried about having the Bully at my back, there I see Mom. She was coming hard out that door — wielding a large wooden rolling pen. She must have witnessed the developments through the kitchen window, and simply grabbed the nearest “weapon”. She was ready to Kick Some Ass! (Of course, Mom would NEVER utter that phrase.) She was in the Bully’s face, and telling him a thing or two, about the errors of his ways — in not gentle language.

I just sat there stunned, and genuinely impressed. I had seen Mom mad at me or my sibs more than once, but never like this. She was raging! She was a Mama Bear coming fiercely protecting her cubs. It was a sight to see! That Bully took off like his tail was on fire. He got WAY more than he was counting on, when he tussled with my Mom’s son and friends! Way to go Mom!!