Arm Wrestling and Mothers

June 28, 2011

Let me tell you about one of the most interesting women I’ve ever met. 

My friend James grew up in a broken home. His mother had struggled with drinking while his father had spent decades in prison. He never really had a relationship with his father, and his mother was his only family/authority in his life. She had to fill the role of both mother and father; provider and protector.

She was her own woman. She was strong and confident. She was kind of trippy (she told us stories about her hanging out with the guys from AC/DC when she lived in Australia). She was not afraid of standing up for or against anybody. She was bold. And she knew how to live.

She eventually kicked her drinking problem and really did the best she could to provide for her son. While he was a typical teenager, and quite rebellious, he still had a level of respect for his mom. He had a level of respect that most people don’t get to feel for their parents because of the extreme conditions of their lives. They had moved to a new home every 6 months. They were lucky to just scrape by. But they always did.

Even thought he always found something to argue with her about and always ended up getting frustrated and annoyed by her, he still had a level of respect for her. He even bragged about his mom in a way.

You see, James used to claim that his mom, Sharon, could beat up everybody else’s dad any day of the week.

Nobody doubted this. Well…

I always remember this one time where she arm wrestled the biggest guy I knew. His name was Mack and he was a friend to me and James. We had known each other for a while and just hung out with each other while we were in middle school. But Mack wasn’t your typical middle schooler. He was well developed and was built like a senior in high school.

He was 6’2″ and she was 5’2″. She was thirty five years his senior and he wasn’t even doing algebra yet. She had hard calloused hands from a lifetime of hard labor and his hands were soft from playing video games.

Mack thought he was big enough and tough enough to take down this fiesty old lady. So he decided that he would take her on in a good old fashioned arm wrestling match.

Oh, and did she accept…

The battle was epic. They decided that they would have the arm wrestling contest right on top of the hood of her beat up Mazda truck. As they locked arms and tightened their grips, Mack’s hand enclosed Sharon’s tiny hand. She even had to stand up on the tire of the truck so she could make sure she could start with her arm at a 90 degree angle (as any seasoned arm wrestler would know).

When the match began, I thought her arm would break like a twig. Her sun battered skin flexed and tightened and the muscles formed small rocks underneath the tattoo of a tiger hiding in grass on her right arm. In ten seconds nobody’s arm had moved either direction. She was hardly even flinching. James just leaned on the side of the truck a watched the way a boxing manager watches a match that has  rigged.

He had no doubt about the outcome.

After the initial ten seconds of contest passed, Mack’s arm began to retreat into submission. He let out a yell of frustration and confusion. Soon the back of his hand lay flat across the hood of that dented Mazda.

All she said was, “Huh, I beat you, and I’m not even right handed…”

I could swear that tiger tattoo smiled…

I received some news today that made me call James. When he picked up I said the only thing I could think of.

“When did it happen?”

“Last Tuesday.” he said calmly.

I paused for a little while. I needed to think of something else to say. What was I supposed to say?

“I’m sorry, man. I’m sorry. Are you okay? Do you need somebody to talk to? Can I come see you?”

“Yeah, tomorrow. Come over around 10.”

“Okay. No problem. I’ll be there. When is the memorial service?”

“July 3rd.”

“Okay bro, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I had called him because I learned that Sharon had died in a car accident.

Tomorrow I’m going over to his house. I’m going to comfort him in a time of need. He lost his mother. I should say, he lost his provider/protector/mother/father/arm wrestling champ. He lost his everything.

For those of you who pray, please pray for James, his fiance, and son. Pray that he finds strength and hope in a time when it may seem like there is very little.

Play “For those about to Rock” by AC/DC on your sweet stereo and imagine the toughest broad you’ve ever met embarass a middle schooler in an arm wrestling match. She would have enjoyed the thought of this.

For those of you with mothers and fathers still alive, please remember how much they mean to you. Even if you’re mad at them and don’t speak anymore. Even if you’re still in constant contact with them. Maybe you have had other people in your lives who were like a parent when you didn’t have one. Just try to reach out to them and tell those people, whoever they are, that you love them.

In deep thought,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: