First Words PRIME MAGAZINE — 29 April 2016
When you are up to your sawgrass in alligators

By Mark Gauert

City & Shore Magazine

Mom sees my post about the alligator in the road up ahead and writes, “You know I don’t like you riding your bike on Alligator Alley.”

Mom is 2,000 miles, five states and 58 years away from her baby and the alligator now on the road up ahead. No matter, the miles, geography or years.

“Isn’t it nice how our mothers look after us no matter our age?’’ my friend Kathy says.

More than nice, I say. A gift.

Mom has been looking out for me since always. Especially when I’m riding anything that moves.

She didn’t like it when I rode the hard-shell back of a Galapagos tortoise at the San Diego Zoo when I was 2 years old. “You know I don’t like you riding Galapagos tortoises.”

She didn’t like it when I rode my Schwinn Stingray into a storm-sewer grate and flipped over the handlebars when I was 7. “You know I don’t like you riding your Stingray into storm sewers.”

She didn’t like it when I drove off alone in my two-seat Mazda to my first job 1,944.4 miles away in South Florida.

“I still can’t believe I let you go off by yourself, with everything you had in the back of that little car,” she says. “I didn’t like that.’’

Mom really wouldn’t have liked it if she’d known I had a flat in swampy Louisiana, and had to pile everything I had along the side of the two-lane blacktop to get the spare. There were alligators on both sides of the road back then.
She didn’t know that. (Until now).

“I didn’t need to know that,” she says.

Somehow, I managed to get the tire changed. And to finish the journey to South Florida. And to get and keep a job. And to get married, make a home and help raise two boys – until one day the older son started talking about driving off on his own to school 3,049.3 miles away.

“You know,” I heard myself say, “I don’t like that.’’

The truth is, unless we pull on heavily padded, flame-retardant, asteroid-resistant clothing and never leave our rooms a single day of our lives, we’re going to worry our mothers. (And even then…

“You know I don’t like you never leaving your room.”)

This issue of PRIME is for those who listened to their mothers (or not!), learned to adapt and eventually found their way. We’re still listening, looking for good advice at any age, like the kind we offer in these pages. We have lived long enough to appreciate the value in good advice.

And the enduring love and care of parents.

Mom sees my post about the alligator in the road up ahead and writes, “You know I don’t like you riding your bike on Alligator Alley.”

And because I have learned since I was her baby – 2,000 miles, five states and 58 years away – I know now just what to say.

“Not to worry, mom. I was in Shark Valley.”

mgauert@cityandshore.com

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