News From Terre Haute, Indiana


May 11, 2014

MIKE LUNSFORD: A face only a mother could love

It is fitting that Mother’s Day comes when it does, for spring is a maternal season, one for new beginnings, for birth and rebirth, for flowering and nurturing and caring.

Each year, it seems, I have a story to write for the Monday after Mother’s Day, and each year, I write about my own mother, who, perhaps more than anyone else, I wish I could speak to again. I’d hope we all think of our mothers that way.

But this story will be about mothers other than my own.

Of her, I will simply say that she was a pie-baker, a clothes-mender, a scolder and hugger, a Bible-reader and good friend. She was as tough as nails but as delicate as a lace doily, a wonderful person who was often too critical of her own faults. She was my first and best teacher, and she’s never allowed death itself to stop her from dispensing lessons to this day.

I have been taking stock of other mothers in my life right now, two of which have come to live in my barn a while.

Of course, I’m not speaking of my wife. If a major argument were to ever separate our sleeping arrangements, I think I would be the one making a bed in the straw we keep there, not Joanie. Luckily, that has never come to pass.

I am speaking of two temporary inhabitants at my place: one an unnamed and uninvited little cat who, by the looks of her, is going to give birth any day; the other a young mother possum who already has seven mouths to feed, and is managing to do that with the help of our table scraps and leftover cat food.

This has been a year for stray cats at our place. Old age and attrition had reduced our population to just two felines as the fall crept into winter.

Our indoor cat, Edgar, spends his days at our window sills sunning his black fur and capturing imaginary prey; he’s a manic bundle of nerves, but we’ve made him our own.

The other, of course, is the ever-present Max, who has survived a litany of scrapes with mean strays and car bumpers and quiet garage doors for 15 years now. His only concession to old age has become the heat lamp he expects over his bed when the temperature dips into the low teens, and despite a rather low IQ, even by tomcat standards, he manages to hang on year after year.

By January, however, we had picked up a rather brutish and sore-footed vagrant we began to call Leo, since he resembled a lion. He has never moved past the curmudgeonly stage and, on occasion, plays the role of schoolyard bully to our other cats.

Next, we picked up a bleary-eyed orphan that I named Earl, somewhat, I suppose, after the dim-witted former felon of television reruns. He has already made two trips under protest to the veterinarian, and I often look out the window just in time to see Joanie traipsing after him, eye-dropper in hand, hoping to get a bit of medicine into him.

Then, of course, came Miss No Name, who Joanie agrees will have to stick around long enough now to deliver and then wean her litter. She’ll then face a quick spaying before we shuffle her off to a new home; after all, we can’t keep them all.

I was, however, more than a little surprised a few nights ago when, as I headed toward a shower with the dust of an evening yard mowing in my hair, Joanie told me she intends to keep one of the cat’s kittens. I can recite chapter-and-verse my reasons why we don’t need another cat to care for, but I don’t believe I have much say in the matter.

The possum has been a most unusual guest. Living where we do, we often get the occasional raccoon or skunk or snake or possum, hanging around our barn like hotel lobby guests. She has taken quite a liking to that aforementioned bed of Max’s.

Just the other day, I slipped onto a mower and fired it up for an hour or so of grass cutting, and as I pulled back, I saw a long pink snout pop over the top of the bed, a bungee cord-like tail soon following it. I turned off the mower and peered into the bed to see her, yawning and sleepy-eyed, seven white and black babies, so ugly they are cute, curled up around her for a warm afternoon nap, apparently not concerned I was watching. I found it odd to see the inner toes of her hind feet work in chimpanzee-like nimbleness, and soon had my wife and visiting daughter in the barn to see the show.

I have written about possums before, and I know of the hazards of allowing her to stay around. Her razor sharp teeth keep me aware that she’ll never be a pet, nor would I want her to be. But, other than losing a bit of lost cat food to her, she seems to be doing us no harm, and when she and her babies move on — and they will — I’ll get Max a new bed.

Besides, her off-spring may have faces that only a mother could love, but love them she must for they will be her traveling companions for three months or more, hitching rides on her back or on her tail until they are big enough to take care of themselves.

I am not particularly happy that I am operating an animals’ home for single mothers in my barn, that a no-name cat, thoughtlessly dropped out of someone’s car like garbage, has brought her problems to my doorstep. And, that a possum, one of the most homely and nearly prehistoric of creatures on the planet, has made herself at home, too.

But the good mother I live with now will not turn them away, and the mother I had as a boy wouldn’t have either. So they can stay on a while.

There is an essay, called “Our Mothers,” by the long-gone Christopher Morley that I read last week for no particular reason. In it, he wrote that mothers “created our world, and taught us to dwell within.”

I think he was right about that.

Mike Lunsford can be reached by email at, or c/o the Tribune-Star at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808. Go to his website at to learn more about his books.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • MET072914leo screen.jpg Slick’s debut

    Bobby “Slick” Leonard was the main attraction but his hometown, Terre Haute, was constantly in the background as friends, fans and family gathered in Indianapolis Tuesday night to honor the man famous for the words “Boom Baby.”

    July 29, 2014 8 Photos

  • MET 072914 TAJIMI YANASE.jpg Sister-city students get a dose of ‘new culture’

    One of Juri Sawada’s dreams has been to visit America.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Motion delays trial for 2012 homicide

    A man who has been jailed about 20 months in connection with the homicide of his wife will not go on trial next week as scheduled.

    July 29, 2014

  • Sheriff charged in prostitution case

    Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement working to protect the public from criminals, but on Tuesday he was treated as one.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • maple candy closeup.jpg Vigo Parks dishing out the sweetness

    Vigo County Parks and Recreation has made a “sweet” addition to its maple syrup production at Prairie Creek Park.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Danny Rodden indicted on federal charges

    Instead of overseeing the operations of the Clark County jail and police force Tuesday, Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden found himself being transported by the FBI to Indianapolis to answer federal charges.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • Woman’s condition ‘fair’ after grocery store wreck

    A Terre Haute woman was listed in fair condition Tuesday at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis as the result of injuries sustained in Monday’s accident on the Baesler’s Market parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Semi driver cited for alcohol use

    A commercial vehicle driver has been placed out of service after he tested positive for alcohol consumption during a Tuesday morning traffic stop in Sullivan County.

    July 29, 2014

  • Church to give out school backpacks

    United Methodist Temple will stage its first-ever Back-2-School Bash from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.
    The church is located at 5301 S. U.S. 41.

    July 29, 2014

  • MET 072814 BUS MEYERROSE.jpg Bus safety features

    New safety features on South Vermillion School Corp. buses have led to fewer disciplinary problems and fewer incidents of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses, officials say.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Humvee driver says foot caused fatal accident

    Kyle Pendergast, 22, the Terre Haute driver of a black Humvee charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing the death of a teenager, has told police he could not turn the wheel before the vehicle flipped in a field in an early Saturday morning accident.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 072814 CONTAMINATED Cleaner may have contaminated water

    Groundwater and soil testing is set to begin within a week to learn whether toxic chemicals might have seeped into the wells of a small southside neighborhood and even beyond.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Housing Authority’s Warren Village nearing completion

    Construction on the newest Terre Haute Housing Authority property – Warren Village – should wrap up next month, a housing authority official said Monday.

    July 29, 2014

  • rush-hr.jpg Observers predict ‘wide open’ process of picking next chief

    State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson surprised observers in June when he decided to step down after a brief tenure as the state’s top judge.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Multi-vehicle accident in parking lot

    A woman was hospitalized with injuries after a multiple-vehicle accident late Monday morning in the Baesler’s Market parking lot on Poplar Street

    July 29, 2014

  • Old National acquires Michigan bank

    Evansville-based Old National Bancorp and Grand Rapids-based Founders Financial Corp. said Monday they have finalized an agreement under which Old National will acquire Founders through a stock and cash merger.

    July 28, 2014

  • Ohio man falls to death at Cataract Falls rec area

    Indiana conservation officers are investigating the death of an Ohio man that occurred at about 4:10 p.m. Sunday at Cataract Falls State Recreation Area in Owen County.

    July 28, 2014

  • MET 072514 WWI 01MORAHN.jpg Postcards from the war front

    A native of France, Marie Decleir saw humanity at its worst as she experienced the death and destruction caused by World War I, which began 100 years ago today.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 072714 NASCAR STEIG.jpg Watching Gordon make history

    As race car drivers competed on the track on Sunday in Indianapolis, racing fans in Terre Haute gathered around television screens and watched history unfold during the “Crown Royal Presents, The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard.”

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Inept amid partisan fury

    Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous.

    July 27, 2014

  • Restaurant Inspections: July 28, 2014

    July 7-11

    July 27, 2014

  • MET 072514 I-70 CONE.jpg Caution zone

    Travel the interstate at your own risk.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Earl Elliott report1 copy.jpg Report: City‘s general fund to remain in red

    The city’s general fund balance on June 30 remained deep in the red, even after Terre Haute received its twice-yearly property tax check from the state.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

  • MET 072314 INTERN 01MILLER.jpg Interns, getting foot in the door, bring diversity to workplace

    Shanya Tompkins interviewed with Coldwell Banker-Troy Helman Realtors, anticipating an eight-week, part-time summer internship.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET072514dance porter.jpg Everybody get up and dance now

    National Dance Day promotes dancing as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Man arrested after rollover kills teen girl

    A Terre Haute man has been arrested and a teenager has died following an alcohol-related accident early today.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • Brother sues W.Va. senator over business loan

    U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III faces a $1.7 million civil suit filed by a brother over a lifeline to save a family carpet business. in the late 1980s.

    July 26, 2014

  • MET072514 invenadamson step.jpg ‘Minds-on camp’

    Sylvia Ann Adamson longed for privacy, so she invented a solution to that problem at “Camp Invention.”

    July 25, 2014 5 Photos

  • Linda Tincher.jpg Riley lion’s roar goes global

    Linda L. Tincher has become the first woman from Indiana elected to serve as an international director for Lions Clubs International. She was chosen earlier this month during the clubs’ 97th international convention in Toronto, Canada.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET072514 SPPRAK glasses.jpg Kindness ‘undercover’

    Hundreds of people gathered at Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium on Friday for a night of baseball, music, the “Green Man” and green shades.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

Latest News Poll
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Raw: Earthquake Rocks Mexico's Gulf Coast Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Gaza Official: at Least 100 Killed Tuesday Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Raw: NH Man Held on $1M in Teen's Kidnapping Mother of 2 Makes NFL Cheerleading Squad at 40 Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Raw: Aftermath, Artillery Shells Hit Donetsk
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Two women barely avoid being hit by train Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010

Real Estate News