HAMMOND | It didn't happen a ton but it did happen some. Whether it was the second session of two-a-days or the Wednesday before the Class 4A semistate, Roy Richards' phone would ring.
Morton's athletic director and football coach would say, "Hello." Then, the sentence would ensue.
"Hey coach, this is 'Pork Chop's' mom."
Kelly Hayes has never called her son, Robert Hayes, by his given name. And she couldn't.
"Because if I did no one would know who I was talking about," Kelly said.
Robert Hayes, Morton's 6-foot-3, 275-pound junior left tackle, has been called "Pork Chop" since he was in sixth grade. His mother, though, is the one person who can call him Robert.
Last November, after the loss to Fort Wayne Dwenger in the semistate, Kelly waited for her son at the fence as the Govs sadly walked off after the 48-12 loss.
"My inspiration for football is her," Robert said. "She is one of my biggest supporters."
Today's Mother's Day celebration will mean even more to Robert. In 1999 his mother started having seizures, by 2007 they were worse.
So she can't work or drive a car. Kelly moved to DeMotte to live with her parents, while Robert lives with his father in Hammond. Going Monday through half a day on Friday without a mother isn't easy for Robert.
"She hasn't been able to do everything that a mom does but she tries," he said. "A lot of kids have their mom there every morning to fix breakfast or help you get ready. I don't see my mom during the week. The last four years it's been just me and my dad.
"But she and her parents drive up every Friday to watch me play. They yell, 'Hey, Pork Chop,' from the stands and I always wave and say hello."
Today, Robert is taking his mother to Chicago for some Mother's Day pizza with other members of the family. And he gets to tell her the most important things.
"It's Mother's Day and it's my time to tell her how much I love her and how grateful I am for everything she's done," Robert said.
Kelly Hayes said she started to have tears fall when she heard what her son said about her. She hopes to return home one day when some issues are worked out and her health improves.
She said she misses the drives the family used to take on warm, summer nights.
"We'd just drive around and turn the music on," Kelly said. "It was a lot of fun. Robert and my daughter mean so much to me."