For most of us who dabbled in sports as kids, our best memories revolve around our moms showing up to our games.

That was the case for me as well. And when my mother Mary passed away last month at age 75 after a long battle with COPD, those sports memories were the first ones to make it through the veil of tears and grief.

Mom wasn't what nowadays is derisively called a "helicopter parent" - as a single mom with four kids, she wouldn't have been able to afford the helicopter anyway.

But that didn't prevent her from supporting all her kids in their sports endeavors.

Starting with me, that involved countless hours in the car driving us all over creation to baseball games, soccer tournaments, wrestling tournaments, you name it.

Soccer season in Portland, Oregon meant getting up early on chilly winter mornings to drive several hours and run around in the rain or snow for a couple of hours.

And Mom was always up at the crack of dawn, preparing lunch and snacks for myself and the team. Not something she had to do ... just something she wanted to do.

Baseball season was usually a warmer affair, taking place mainly during the summer months.

And Mom wasn't above a little bit of bribery.

One day in a Little League all-star game in the summer of 1976, I eyed a sky-high infield fly from my second base position.

"If you catch that ball, I'll buy you a Quarter Pounder with Cheese," Mom hollered from the stands.

This was in the days before Happy Meals, so it was only big-boy food for this husky 9-year-old.

I caught the pop fly and Mom kept her word. One Quarter Pounder with Cheese, plain, on the way home.

The "plain' thing, I got from Mom. At the time, I thought it was just another way to tick off Dad, since as a Type A personality, he was always in a hurry and a plain Quarter Pounder with Cheese entailed an additional four-minute wait.

Now, with the wisdom that comes with age, I realize that it's the best way to get a fresh sandwich.

Getting under Dad's skin, I'm guessing, was just a bonus.

One of the funniest memories I have of Mom comes from my sophomore year of high school. Mom had gotten off work early to attend another one of my JV football games in the fall of 1981.

And once again, she got a nice view of my backside as I roamed the sidelines waiting in vain for my chance to play.

"I'm going to call that coach and give him a piece of my mind," Mom groused as we rode the San Diego Trolley home that night.

Oh, HELL no, I thought to myself. This wasn't going to end well. I started scheming how to raid her desk when we got home and confiscate the football team welcome package that included all the coaches' phone numbers.

I tried to explain to Mom that I wasn't playing much because I, well, wasn't that good.

Ever seen "Rudy?" That was me as a high school football player.

Mom was having none of it. Luckily for me, I was able to redirect her.

She later got to see me get a few garbage time plays in late in blowouts. It wasn't much. But it was something.

In later years, Mom got to see my younger brothers wrestle and play football, and my late sister Melanie play volleyball and softball.

And she was just as supportive of their efforts.

The pain of Mom's loss is eased somewhat by the knowledge that she's been reunited both with Melanie and her own mom, my beloved Grandma Edwina, who also logged thousands of miles and hours watching me and my siblings play sports.

Grandma was just as big a fan as Mom.

RIP, Mom. Thanks for always being there, and thanks for setting the example I follow in raising my own kids. See you on the other side, Mom. I love you.

Contact Gridley Herald sports/news reporter David Vantress at 846-3661, ext. 123 or by email at Follow him on Twitter at @dvantressGH.