As long as anyone in our family can remember, she has always called me Jimmer, and she made sure my teachers and friends called me by that name too. If she ever heard anyone call me anything but Jimmer, she would get after them and say, “His name is Jimmer call him Jimmer!” Sometimes my name can be a pain, like when I’m ordering food at a restaurant and they keep asking me my name. After I repeat it a few times, they usually get it. Frankly, though, I really don’t mind the inconvenience. I like my name. It’s unique, and I’m glad my mom thought of it.
When my grandpa coached sports, my mom was always there by his side. If you think of the little girl in the movie "Remember the Titans," that was her. She was always on the football field and usually had her pictures taken with the team. Both as a coach and a teacher, my grandfather often dealt with bullies and their victims. Because my mom was often around, observing what was going on, having those experiences further developed my mom’s sensitivity to bullying. This became an important matter to my mom, as she constantly emphasized the importance of being kind, courteous and aware of what other people are feeling.
My mom was always reminding me and my brother to write thank-you notes to people who helped us out. We didn’t always follow through, despite her constant reminders, but she was so adamant about writing thank-you notes that it became somewhat of a family joke.
Growing up, I was usually bigger than most of the other kids my age, but because my mom had taught me the golden rule, I had no inclination to use my size to intimidate others, and she made it very clear to me that gaining a reputation as a bully was probably the worst thing I could do.
But she also took it a step further, teaching me to keep an eye out for people who were teased and encouraging me to go to their rescue if necessary. She taught me to never judge people who were different.
On one occasion, I tried to help a kid who was being teased at school. I was a team captain and we were choosing teams for a game. Trying to remember what my mother had taught me, I chose this kid first on my team. He wasn’t the best player, and everyone knew it, but suddenly, everyone began to treat this kid like he was their friend. Later that day, my teacher dropped by my house to tell my mom about the incident. My mom later took me aside and told me how proud she was of me and that I had made a big impact on that kid. It was a great lesson to learn, and I credit my mother for teaching me to have compassion for others. I would have never learned it without her great example.
When it comes to similarities, my mother and I are very much alike in that we don’t like people making a fuss over us. It’s obviously a lot harder for me, given my chosen career, but my mom is very shy and hates being in the limelight. I remember when I was nearing the end of my career at BYU, many of my teammates had never met my mom. Most of them didn’t know who she was and certainly weren’t aware that she had been to almost every home game throughout my college career. They all knew my dad; he was always out front, interacting with the players and joking around with them. My mom, however, chose to remain in the background and out of view.
During the NCAA Tournament, the television cameras would often show my family when something dramatic happened. Inevitably, they could find my dad or my brother, TJ, but my mom learned to sit as far away as possible from them because she didn’t want to be on camera. She was always content with being at home, doing her thing with our family and her friends. When she’s with our family and close friends, she is very charming and charismatic, but she simply prefers to avoid the spotlight.
I am grateful to my mom. I hope I can follow her example and live up to her high expectations. It’s the least I can do to show how much I love and appreciate her.
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