I thought, I had seen it all. I’d seen my mother happy, and I’d seen her mad. Mostly mad, but never sad and regretful. Until one night when my father was out of town at a convention for Insurance Salesmen.
Mom and I ate our dinner in almost total silence, which was unusual in itself, as she almost always was telling me to sit straight in my chair, and not slouch, and to watch my ps and qs when we were in church, and of course not to associate with the Girl next door!
Part of me wanted to know, just what she meant by “associate” which could have meant a lot of things, if you asked me. Did it mean, walking back and forth in front of her house, hoping she’s see me and come out? Or did it mean that I wasn’t to speak to her, if we casually met each other on the street? Or did it mean, that I wasn’t allowed to make myself all crazy and everything, thinking, and hoping about the next time we would be together? I guess, I would never really know until I asked, but which I wouldn’t do anyway.
After we had cleaned up and had washed the dishes, I turned on the old Boob Tube to see what was on tonight. I know how disappointed mom was when the Ed Sullivan Show of Shows announced that it was finally ending its 23 year run. She didn’t care for all of the acts that appeared, but especially when The Rolling Stones, or the Doors appeared, she began stomping her feet, and ranting about how the country was going to “Heck in a Hand Basket.” I’d never heard my mother swear like that before, and worried that she might suffer an attack of the vapors, or have to have a cold compress put upon her forehead. I wasn’t really sure what a cold compress was, and hoped that a small taste of her cooking sherry would be able to do the trick, calming her nerves and all!
There wasn’t really anything interesting on TV. Not interesting, or acceptable by my mother’s standards, anyway, which made me turn on a few lights and begin to read my latest comic’s digest. Mom disappeared into the kitchen while I read, but I lost track of time and figured, it was time for bed. The funny thing was that my mother usually would have been yelling at me at this point in time, telling me that lack of sleep would stunt my growth, just like smoking cigarettes or drinking soda pop. I decided to look into the kitchen to see just what she was doing, but was surprised at what I found.
She was sitting at the kitchen table with a bottle of Cooking Sherry beside her, with my mother holding a glass filled to the brim with something I never thought I would have seen in my life! She turned to me, having a not so focused look on her face and said, “Do you know why I don’t like Canadians? Well, Do you?”
Honestly, at that point in time, I wish I had just gone off to bed, leaving well enough alone, but since I was here, then….
“No. No I don’t, but you do seem to mention them a lot. What is wrong with Canadians?”
“You see, before I met your father, I was in love with another man.”
What? How could she do that to my father. He was a good guy. OK maybe a bit too involved with his garage, but still a decent enough bread winner.
“He came from Canada”, my mother continued. “Montréal to be exact. I was much younger and he….he seemed so worldly, speaking French and living in another country. And I…. I was just a girl on vacation with her parents. I, I mean we fell in love with each other and promised to take me with him to Canada….”
“My parents didn’t know a thing about us, but had told me that it was time to move on to the next stop on our vacation. I waited outside the trailer park, waited for him to come…but he didn’t. He didn’t come. He just didn’t!”
She downed the glass in her hand, and filled it up again, as if it were one of those trick glasses you saw in the magic shops. No matter how many times you emptied it, Hocus pocus, it filled up again in no time. She looked at me and said, “I never told your father about him. I wanted to, just to make him jealous, but I didn’t. I couldn’t.”
All of a sudden, mom began to cry. “Why didn’t he come for me? Why? I returned home again and thought it through, frame by frame. What did I say, or do that was wrong? Was he just using me? Why didn’t he come back?”
I didn’t know what to say during my mother’s story? I felt like leaving my mother to her memories, and sneaking out to my room, there was, however, something that kept me hanging on. I really wanted to understand my mother, and my father for that matter. It seemed like my mother was never really satisfied with my father. Him not being her Canadian lover that is.
“At the end of that summer”, she continued on, “I met your father. Your not-Canadian-fixit-father, who didn’t sweep me off my feet, nor did he whisper sweet nothings in my ear, in French no less…”
My mother said that OK he might be boring, but he’ll be one to provide for your needs. Love if it were meant to be, would come later on.
My mother began to put her head down on the table, but not before she downed one last glass of sherry. “If only he told me that I was special. If only he treated me, like I was the only one. If only he said something to me in French, just like…….”
That being my cue, I finally took my leave, finally mounting the stairs to my bedroom.
As I lay in bed, I wondered, how my father was going to react when my mother told him about her wishes? I’m sure it’ll come out of left field for him, just like it did for me! I wasn’t even sure, what it was that triggered my mother’s sudden affection to Cooking Sherry? I admit to drinking my share of Dr Peppers, but not to excess, like my mother seemed to be doing tonight. I’ll try to speak to her tomorrow, and help her to make sense of things.
The next day I got up at my usual time of 8am. The kitchen was empty, and the bottle and glass was nowhere to be seen. I poked around my father’s garage, and walked outside in the sunshine, enjoying the warm rays upon my skin. At 11am my mother finally showed her face in the kitchen, but it was not one of happiness and joy.
“Oh, it’s you”, she said, as if I wasn’t supposed to be there in my own kitchen. She began moving things around, but really slowly as if it hurt her head to think about doing that. “Mom, why don’t you let me make you some breakfast and coffee?” said while being it all being a bit awkward, like talking to a stranger in my own house. My mother just turned slowly and looked at me, but with a sort of relief that I never had seen before. “Yes, my boy. That would be great. I think, I’ll just lie down a bit, until you’re ready. It’s almost like having an extra Mother’s Day.” And with that she gave me a hug, and kissed me on my forehead, and disappeared into the next room.
Suddenly there was a knock at the back door. “Hey Ninny, did your mother lock you in, or something?” My friend came into the kitchen and heard the whole story in the Readers Digest Condensed Version. “Hey, don’t let it get you down. Parents do those kind of things now and again. I think they’ve forgotten how it is to be young, and end up doing something that they’ll regret the next day. I’ll bet it’ll happen to us someday too!” She seemed so wise for her age. I really was happy that she happened on by today, helping me to make sense of it all. We worked on mom’s breakfast together, making more food than a barrel full of monkeys could eat, but hey it seemed like a good idea at the time!
We set the table and called out to mom. She had gotten herself gussied up and didn’t look like she had slept on the kitchen table anymore, using a bottle as her pillow. She was really surprised seeing the Girl Next Door together with me, but after she was served a cup of hot coffee, along with a flower in a glass (picked from our own front yard, just minutes before) then it didn’t seem like it was so bad after all. My friend excused herself and went on her way, giving me a wink and a pat on my back, before she left. “Take good care of her Poindexter. She’s the only mother you’ve got!!”
It’s true, she was the only mother I had, and we all need a bit of taking care of from time to time. My mother didn’t say much as she ate her breakfast. I did see a smile once in a while, and got a few gently reprimands, about the mess that we made, and how many bread crumbs that were on the floor, but I could tell it was just her way of getting back in the saddle, before the big rodeo, as it were.
The only thing that I worried about is when my father came home. It seemed like my mother had a lot of regrets right now, and I’m not sure my father will have seen it, whatever that is, coming when he walks in the front door from his convention? I guess, I just might have to make breakfast for him, if he finds an uncomfortable place to sleep after speaking to my mother upon arrival.
That’s OK. I’m in practice now……