Good morning, happy Mother's Day. Enjoy the day, moms, you deserve it ... and a whole lot more.
Notwithstanding all the cards, flowers, candy and sappy sentiments that come with such a day, there really is no getting around this one simple fact: mothers matter.
They really do.
At the risk of coming off as naive and perhaps a bit too Pollyanna, mothers can make an incredible difference in a person's life. For good or bad, right or wrong, a mother's example is far-reaching and consequential.
Now, this isn't to say good moms can't have bad children or that good children can't grow from a home in which a mother isn't there. On the contrary, I'm sure we all know examples of each.
I'm reminded of Jazz guard Randy Foye, who was just 5 years old when his drug-addicted mother vanished from the streets of Newark, N.J.
He turned out just fine. Better than most, actually.
And in researching for today's column, I came across this from former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL star Eddie George:
"When I was younger, around 15 years old, I was a knucklehead who didn't want to study, didn't want to go to school," George told ESPN. "(My mother) made the tough decision to send me to a military academy (Fork Union Military Academy) at that age.
"I didn't realize at the time that it was a launching pad for me to get to this point where I am now. I thought my career was done, I thought it was over, I thought that I would never play football again when I went to the military academy but it opened up the door for me to really achieve that dream.
"I owe a great deal to her and I commend her for having the foresight to say, 'My son's at an age where he needs a father and he needs discipline and I just can't provide that for him so we'll have to send him away.'"
And that brings me to this: mothers -- fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, too -- you have the ability to influence lives and it's a serious responsibility. Don't take it lightly.
Please don't ignore the opportunity to teach young people about respect for themselves and others.
Don't be afraid to show them the value of a life.
I mention this not from a desire to climb on a soapbox, but out of sadness for the loss of Ricardo Portillo, the volunteer soccer referee who died last week after allegedly being punched by a teenager who objected to receiving a yellow card during a game.
If it hasn't already, let that sink in. A 46-year-old man, a husband and father who volunteered his time to help officiate a sport he loved, is dead as the result of the senseless actions of a young person who reportedly responded to a disagreement - to the act of being disciplined -- with violence.
A 17-year-old, going after a 46-year-old man with his fists? Spin it however you want, the only answer to the question is: That's wrong; unbelievably wrong.
And yet it seems to be a fact of life these days, a product of our decaying society.
Look, I understand it's no longer acceptable to pass judgment on anyone or anything, even when there's a glaring difference between right and wrong. Old guys like me droning on about days gone by are usually met with scoffs and rolling eyes.
But the fact remains, when I was kid, I wouldn't have dared talk back to a grown up, much less respond with violence.
Sure, part of it was a healthy fear of those in authority. But even more than that it was respect for my elders, not to mention a respect for life.
OK, time to end my sermon, to stop preaching and finish up with something positive, something that's hopefully uplifting: Respect matters. Life matters. Mothers matter.
Please don't be afraid to share that message. Your mother would approve.