Monday, September 19, 2016

Math, Mother, and Memory

by Bruce Carroll

It's funny how an insufferable experience can become a fond memory, given time. Homemade candy helps, I suppose.

As a child, I struggled with math. Multiplication was a bear. Fractions were even worse.

When I was in sixth grade, I brought home a particularly daunting worksheet as my math homework. My parents insisted I begin doing homework almost as soon as I got home. I was granted enough time to consume a snack, then it was time to hit the books.

I endeavored, I toiled, I sweat. It was several pages and the answers were not coming easily. I was allowed another break for dinner. Dinner? I'd already been working two hours and still had a long, long way to go.

After dinner, I was back at my worksheet. I'd complete a page and have my parents check it, only to discover I had done the entire thing wrong and had to do it over.

As a sixth grader my bedtime was early; eight p.m., if I recall correctly. I wanted to go to bed. Badly. My head hurt. I was indescribably frustrated. I just wanted the night of mathematical torture to end.

Finally, at just past ten p.m. I managed somehow to get the last problem on the last page solved correctly. Exhausted, I said good night to my mother.

But she had a surprise for me. She was proud of my hard work, she said, and she went on to tell me that earlier in the day, while I was at school, she had made some Heavenly Hash. Now Heavenly Hash is my absolute favorite candy. I was surprised and delighted when she said I could stay up just a bit longer and eat a couple of pieces.

Sadly, my mother passed away a few years later, succumbing to cancer. I've grown older, and today I can no longer recall what kind of math problems I struggled through that night. But I remember the lesson my mother taught me about persistence and hard work.

What fond memories do you have? Let me know in the comments below.

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