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My Tenth Birthday

Updated on March 10, 2011

Author: W. K. Hayes

The most touching day of my life

When we look back through the years, there’s always a certain memory of our parents that will forever leave it's mark on our hearts and this short story happens to be one I will never forget.

Growing up was always hard. I didn’t work to buy toys. I didn’t get an allowance. Fact is, I did work my butt off on a farm but it was for buying school clothes and school supplies.

The people that ran the farm ran it as if slavery were still legal and could be quite abusive if we refused to work. For seven years, I tolerated the cruelty, lies and torture of that farm but that was how I helped my mom out.

Mom was disabled but getting disability without an attorney was not going to happen. Ultimately, I have no regrets about learning to work that hard at such a young age, even under extremely harsh conditions. It was an experience that makes me tenacious about working now.

After spending a few years in an orphanage, being separated from my mom and siblings…I was more than glad to be back with my mom and very glad to be away from the orphanage. What you see in movies actually took place back then and probably, even to this day.

As my grandpa would often say, “Now, I said that to say this”.

School was about to start and it was my birthday. I had just become the big 1-0…yep, I was ten, had a head full of hair and was ready to get out of the single digits.

Yep, it was my birthday and I was excited about what the day would bring me. Would I get a cool new toy? Would I get my favorite cake; devil’s food smothered in chocolate? Would I get a card with a little money tucked into it? Who knew what the day would bring, but I was trying really hard to guess.

Truthfully, I cannot recall a single thing about my tenth birthday except one moment that I surely will never forget. What I do remember was one of the most touching moments in my lifetime and one of the reasons I was so close to my mom.

It was a warm summer night and as usual, mom would sit out on the front porch, think her thoughts and enjoy the breeze, should there one. I also remember one of my siblings telling me that mom wanted to talk to me for minute.

Now, normally when mom called one of us kids out onto the porch…somebody was in trouble. Nervous, I slowly worked my way out onto the porch and sincerely hoped that whatever she had to say didn’t have a spanking coming at the end of it. She asked my brother to close the wooden door. With the porch light off, to keep from attracting bugs, it gave my mom an ominous look which didn't help me any at that time.

Nervously, I walked around the chair to face her with my hands in my back pockets and asked, "Yea, mom"? I was ready for my punishment, although I didn't have a clue as to what I could have possibly done wrong. Birthdays and Christmas have a tendency to put most kids on their best behavior.

Instead, she had me sit down on her knee and joked about me having a boney-butt. Then, she put her arms around me as she sung Happy Birthday to me in her soft southern sound. I carefully sat the whole time and listened at her, as she sang to me.

Afterwards, she hugged me and told me, “Keith, I wish I could give you the world but I don’t have any money, son. With school just starting, I couldn’t scrape together enough to get you anything. I’m sorry. I even wanted to make you a cake but I didn’t have the money for frosting, either”.

By then, I was next to tears. Not because I was relieved at NOT being in trouble but because her singing to me meant the world to my little heart.

I wrapped my boney little arms around her, hugged her and replied, “That's okay mom...the best Birthday present I could have gotten, I have”.

She looked down at me, with tears in her eyes and asked, “What’s that”?

“I’m home with you mom and that’s all that matters to me”.

We sat there and cried together for awhile and what I told her would be just as true today as it was thirty years ago…I miss you mom…



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    • bearnmom profile image

      Laura L Scotty 6 years ago from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

      This story sounds so much like my father's childhood. He also became a man sooner than he needed to with the loss of his father. He helped raise his younger brother and his Mom worked at a family hotel when they were younger before coming to Pittsburgh.

    • W. K. Hayes profile image

      Warren Keith Hayes 6 years ago from Bryson City, North Carolina

      Thank you Shyla's Nana...this was truly the hardest story I have written to date.

    • Shyla's Nana profile image

      Shyla's Nana 6 years ago

      I read this story with tears in my eyes. This is a very touching and moving story in which Keith's love for his mother and his mother's love for her son shines through. For anyone who has grown up in a single parent household and knows the hardships that the single parent went through can truly relate to this story. Keep a kleenex handy, you will be needing one. Thanks for sharing such an awesome story with us. Keep up the good work.