Mothers by the Numbers

Ella, my niece, and Betty, my mother. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, June 4, 2017, 10:13 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Age is mathematical.

If I heard someone say that on TV, I would make fun of it.


The appropriate response from the imaginary person on TV?


Of course.

I just got through watching a CBS This Morning piece on Norman Lear, Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke, all in their nineties. Reiner, the creative force behind The Dick Van Dyke Show, is 95. The star of that sixties sitcom is 91. I was thinking, fifty years ago, the four-year gap probably made a difference. Today, Van Dyke is 95.79 percent the age of Reiner. They are approximately the same. All you have to do is round it up.

Today my niece is throwing a surprise birthday party for my mother. (There will be a delay in posting this for security reasons.)

Before I was born, my mother was infinitely older than I. When I graduated from high school, she was twice as old. As of Tuesday, her actual birthday, I will be 76.62 percent as old.

I think this is eternally true. When my mother was twice my age, we related to each other half as much. Betty Jean Davis Dutton has always been a guiding force. Now we are close friends, each of our lives lessened if we don’t talk on the phone every day. We agree on most things. We laugh at each other’s jokes. We have been similarly toughened by the slings and arrows of life.

A force for peace the likes of which my world has never known landed on June 6.

Exactly four years later came something called D-Day.



(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at (

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).





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