Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Mother's Heart

My mother was 5’4“. She had brown hair, blue eyes, and a smile that was never erased unless she thought one of her chicks was in trouble. She had 25 pounds that she fought most of her life. My father wasn’t much help to her in that department. He thought she was the sexiest when she had a pound or two of unwanted weight.

She wasn’t beautiful in the standard sense of the word, but if you spent time with her you came away feeling that you had just been with one of the most beautiful women you had ever met. It was an aura, a presence, and an unexplainable air of beauty and sexuality that defies words. Everywhere we went some man would feel her in the crowd and fight dragons to get close enough to speak to her. Often he would write his name and phone number on a piece of paper and slip it into her hand.

In her younger years she had trained to be a classical singer. She was gifted with a beautiful soprano voice. She also played the piano and organ. She was the featured singer at many state occasions. My father played the trumpet and harmonica. He was in a small band that played up and down the West Coast. They were drawn to one another because of the music, but that is not how they met. They met because of the Great Depression.

My mothers parents were very upper crusty, but her father died young. Her mother was left to raise her and her sister. She turned the mansion into a boarding house.

My father’s parents grew up on adjoining farms. They got married after they graduated from college. His father was a CPA, but the Depression had left him jobless. My father had to quit college to help support the family. He found a job in the town were my mother lived. He rented a room in her mother’s boarding house.

They used to love to tease us that they lived together long before they decided to get married.

They had been married 32 years when I asked my mother if she would like to accompany me on a speaking engagement in Oregon. We have another half of the family that lives in the Northwest. I thought it would be a wonderful chance for us to be able to visit family members that we hadn’t seen in a while.

My father was unable to take the time off so he would have to stay home alone. That distressed my mother. So she went about making phone calls and visiting friends. She had a passel of female friends that envied my mother her husband, so they were more then willing to promise that they would ?peek? in on him while she was gone. My father had more dinners lined up then a ?single? man would have had.

And so we set about taking our trip up North. We had so much fun. You couldn?t spend time with my mother and not have fun. Every other gas station attendant slipped her his phone number. Every time we stopped to see something interesting there was a man that would appear from nowhere to explain something interesting to her. I never saw my mother flirt, flutter her eyelashes, or in any way encourage men. But they always appeared. I thought it was marvelous to watch.

When we drove through her hometown she wanted to show me something that had been very special to her as a girl. She got a bit confused, but all of a sudden she was telling me to "turn right, turn right". So I turned right. After all it was her hometown. Who better would know when to turn? The minute I made the turn a police car, with it's light whirling and its siren blaring, came up on my rear end. I pulled over to the curb and a very angry policeman came stomping up to my window.

"Do you know that you are going the wrong way on a one way street!?"

He was really disgusted and angered by my stupidity. I knew that I was not only going to get a ticket, he was going to lecture me and in a loud voice.

Then my mother bent over to my side of the car. By the time the conversation was over the policeman was not only laughing he was volunteering to take us to the place that she had been trying to locate. And he did with the lights flashing and the other cars pulling over to the side to let us pass. I still am amazed at the transformation. If only I could have bottled whatever it was that she exuded.

But that trip also held another element. When the sun had gone down and the day was closing my mother would pick up the phone and call my father. She would softly tell him how much she loved him. When they were finished talking she would sit on the side of the bed with tears falling down her cheeks and turn to me and say, "I miss him so much".

I will always remember the love that shone on her face during that quiet time of the evening.

I saw that same look one last time just before my father died. My sister resembles my mother and in my father's last moments he took my sisters hand and whispered, "Oh, I?m so happy to see you Bonnie. I love you. I have missed you so much."

Bonnie was my mother's name and she had been dead for three years.

Thank you Sam.

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