This is not a sports story, but it’s a story that I need to tell. It’s a story of a long journey that started out in brightness and positive promise, fell into darkness, and then came back into the light.

It’s the early story of my life and concerns two women that were keys to it and my struggle to keep them there. There were a lot of ups and downs in that struggle and even now I don’t know if those struggles are completely over.

I believe to this day that I had an exceptional childhood. A close friend insisted I did not. He was wrong. I did. I was the baby in a family of four – three brothers and a sister, the oldest – and we all were very active and involved in anything that had to do with running, shooting baskets, throwing, hitting and catching.

All three of my brothers were good high school athletes – brother Ron is in our school’s Wall of Fame and another, Dave, should be ­– and by virtue of playing against them and their friends on almost a weekly basis I was also a good athlete (our sister probably could have been if girls then were allowed to compete) and around our house it was a constant thing to compete, no matter what, and it could be as little as playing cards or sliding a penny across the table between a brother’s two fingers for a successful goal.

I don’t remember a time when we weren’t competing in something, and despite the intense and spirited play, it was all fun. We played basketball outside in the dead of winter with ice and snow on the ground, mud and cold mixed in on our hands and clothes and desire in our hearts. And it was wonderful.

We had a mother who either allowed it or was overwhelmed with it and just sighed and let us go. I remember my oldest brother Ray coming home from Air Force boot camp and seconds into his appearance in the house said, “Who’s the king of the hill?” He didn’t mean it as a question but as a challenge. I certainly wasn’t up to it, but Ron was.

Of all us four boys, Ron was probably the most competitive. Although years later I would surprisingly discover that I had a quiet competitiveness about me that drove me, and still does.

After clearing out the furniture in the dining room, Ray and Ron went at it. It was quite a battle and our mother, who was just five-feet-two inches tall, was a timid bystander. I remember – “the King” ‑ Ray won the battle after he put Ron through the wall. There were no injuries, just a bruised ego.

My mother, though, was a stabilizing force. She ran the household, like women did in those days. She took care of her children and was very protective of them.

One time she was visiting a neighbor and telling them if Terry ever got hurt on the farm (I worked on a neighbor’s farm at the age of 8) that it would be last time she would allow it. One of the farmhands was there and he blurted, “Oh, he didn’t get hurt badly.”

My mother rushed home and waited at the backdoor for me to show up. When she did, he said, “Let me see you.” She found a gash on my head where one of the empty gas cans that a farmhand had thrown over the side of a truck had landed.

By the way, I continued to work on the farm, mucking out the stalls, herding the cattle in for milking and feeding them and cleaning the floors. Mom either didn’t know or pretended not to know.

Mom set the rules and made the dinners and if you broke the rules or missed the dinners, tough, you didn’t eat or was restricted from activities you liked to do. I don’t remember her ever telling me she loved me, but she didn’t have to because her actions showed me that.

And the Mosher competitiveness came from her. I and she used to play Canasta at the dinner table and I seldom could beat her, although I tried very hard to do so.

She used to fix me a sack lunch for school every day and on the days she made peanut butter sandwiches for me was the day I threw them away at school. I disliked those sandwiches very much, but I never told her I didn’t like them and she kept on making them.

Mom also didn’t know that many days when she dropped me off at church for Sunday school, I would wait until she drove away and leave the church and go play somewhere for the hour. I always got back in time to be there when she and dad showed up for the regular service.

It’s difficult to put in words how much she meant to me. She was everything to me and then came the day that I was summoned out of school and told that mom had died. It – May 21, 1953 ‑ was the darkest day of my life. Mom was just 48 and her twin sister would live on for another 50 years.

Our house was filled with roses at her funeral and hundreds of people where there. I took me a lot of years to learn to like the smell of roses. The smell brought back all the memories of her lying in the casket and of the peanut butter sandwiches I could never have again to throw away.

The ensuring 14 years were what I call my dark years. There was my dad’s remarriage, a move out to the West Coast and a new school and, well, things were so different that I could never adjust. I spent a lot of time alone, taking long walks into the woods and down railroad tracks, bending down every so often to pick up a stone to throw unnoticed and unheard into surrounding woods.

It would take my many years to recover from my mother’s death, and I’m not quite sure whether I have even done so yet. It’s tough when you love somebody so much and depend on them so much to suddenly not have that person around. Life moves on, but I resisted moving on as much as I could because I didn’t want to leave her behind.

My saving grace was the other woman in my life at the time. That would be my sister. She filled in the gaps as much as possible that first year before I was forced to move West with my dad and his new wife. I wouldn’t be here now if not for that move, but at the time I fought hard to stay behind in our little town in New York State. My consolation was that I visited back in New York and stayed at my sister’s house for the following four years during summers, either flying or taking a Greyhound bus. In the summer of 1957, I hitchhiked back to the West Coast from New York.

My sister was my rock who kept me grounded in the time of my deepest despair. If not for her, I would not have made it this far. I’m sure I would have died, probably in unintentional suicide, either by driving too fast, diving from a dangerous height into shallow water, or by starvation. As I grew taller and taller I also grew narrower and narrower from poor or non-existent eating patterns.

At my deepest despair, there was my sister to watch over me and give me some direction and some reason to live. She was not only my rock, but a block of granite for all her five children, six if you count Amy who died of a brain tumor when she was just five. Amy’s death had a large impact on my sister and upon her own death six years ago some of her last words told us that Amy had arrived to escort her over to the other side (my mother was escorted back over to the other side by angels that visited her the night before she died)

I spent the last two years of the 1950s living on weekends and summers with my sister and her husband and kids while going to college back east. Those were good times and lifted the darkness a bit, and then in January of 1960 me and three friends headed to Los Angeles to escape our little town for the bright lights and the beaches of Southern California.

Like my mother and sister, those three friends are now gone. I managed to work my way through five more years of college at Western Washington and two years after I got my degree I married Mary and the darkness finally left.

It was a long and tough journey to finally get out in the light and now it seems our country is entering darkness. I can only hope that goodness and the spirit of God will stay with us and will enable us to stay in the light because I’m seen the darkness and that is not pretty.

Here’s praying that you all have a great Christmas and that the light will always shine bright on you and your family.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.