When still a diaper boy, mom put me in one of those round baby walkers, so I could scoot around freely on my own. Little did she know my new freedom would soon take me right to the edge. One day, she left my sister and I to play in the living room while she took a shower.
At the time, we lived on the second floor of an apartment house in the town of Beckley. From our vantage point, there was no up, just a long way down the hill to the main road. Hill is a relative term here, because Beckley sat directly on a mountain top.
Mom felt secure, since the screen door was latched and she could hear anything going on in the living room. Besides, she would only be a few minutes. That turned out to be just enough time for my sister. My mother first heard silence and then the sound of a chair being dragged across the floor. When she heard the screen door swing open and my baby walker roll across the floor, she instantly knew what was happening.
She later told us she had never moved faster than that day. In an instant, she grabbed a towel and raced through the apartment to the living room. There stood my sister with the screen door propped open and me rolling out the door onto the second-story porch.
Mom made it out to the porch just as I approached the stairs. With her flapping towel providing little cover, she lunged and caught hold of me inches from the stairs' edge. Two old men sitting on the adjoining porch stared in wide-eyed amazement. One of them started clapping.
I'll never know whether he appreciated her quick courage or was simply grateful for the unexpected eye-full. I only know that on this special day many years later, I am still grateful for a mother's love.