Sunday, November 3, 2013


The birthday girl with no party.  But don't feel sorry for her.  That is exactly the way she wants her day to be, turning eighty.  She is practically running to another state just in case someone she knows locally might take a room at the church and have a lovely reception.  Maybe just a little adoration will
be allowed from the family she is running to and her traveling companion.  She has made it very clear she knows the way with her eyes closed.  Lover of maps and adventure the road is always beckoning.  She will go anyway, anyhow, except why fly when you can get in the car and ride for eight or nine hours with birthday luck.  In her car, let me make that very clear.  Car love - seriously.

She loves the smell of new tires and squirrels away secret bars of chocolate.  She is the designated driver in her group of ladies because she can still see at night.  Her mahogany dining room table is always covered in a partial jigsaw puzzle and scattered pieces.  She has everything she needs but she doesn't want too much.  There is no excess of anything in her life except time spent at her computer playing games.  Shopping for shopping's sake doesn't interest her but she loves pretty new clothes.  I heard it from her first, a good bag and good shoes.  She is right but then again, she is right most of the time.

Impeccable taste and fashion advice.  Lipstick, powder and a good haircut.  Blue eyes and simple beauty a teenager who loved makeup could never understand.  Mama blue.  A house with nothing out of place.  A sofa, a chair, a table placement stays forever.

There is nothing in life that can't be cured by writing thank you notes, washing dishes, putting a hot supper on the table.  Writing monthly bills and watching the stock market keep her mind zippy along with crossword puzzles and staying busy. 

There is a trophy on the shelf from the days of her life playing tennis.  And every Bible our family has ever purchased or received.  But she doesn't wear her faith on her sleeve.  She just shows up with whatever meets the need - deviled eggs, chocolate pie or a ham.  And she is quick to let the preacher know how she feels after sitting on the first row at church.  Nothing gets past her.

Especially raising two girls.  Waiting in the wingchair in the dark at 3.  Surprise.  Bacon and eggs for breakfast before church, after a college daughter ran around all night disco dancing.  Surprise.  Taking calls from a concerned professor, politely.  Surprise, your professor called.  Germany?  Really?  Can't see the forest for the trees.  There is this young friend of mine.

Goldwater.  Dallas tears and fears.  Presidential volunteering.  No knives of any kind but disbelief that the Secret Service would really take away his beloved pen knife at the Presidential Library Opening.

Games, always, everyday a full roster.  The Original Cowboy fan, through thick and thin and thick and thin, swaying her day.  World-stopping devotion.  A golf swing but never a player.  Tennis, tennis and more tennis.  Now aerobics to keep her moving.

To lunch but rarely dinner.  A circle of widow ladies with welcoming arms.  Whirlwind socializing.  Book review with a plate of cookies.  Symphony for the children.  Traveling just for a piece of the famous homemade pie.

Every second of every minute figured out weeks in advance, the gift of analyzing bridge twice a week for years.  Tournaments and points and good friends and manners.

The love of family but "when are you leaving" as you walk in the door.  Preparation for leaving.  Holiday dinners with just enough.  Too much leftover dressing would not do.  Leftovers are only tomorrow's meal in three weeks from the freezer.  A lifetime of little lidded cups containing mere tablespoons.  Waste not, want not.  But it was the chili, just that once.

Standing on the tarmac in her winter coat in Morocco.  Left waiting on her Naval Officer because he was right in third grade but wrong about her arrival time.  As fast as she could pack, catch a December train and a transport plane, first flight to a world only imagined in Hollywood.  Tales that would last a lifetime, the yearly tradition of a little ting of the bell on the Christmas corsage he grabbed on the way out the door of a borrowed apartment already full of presents for his bride. 

Working day's end, she and two babies, bathed, freshly dressed, hot supper, everything waiting for his hand upon the door, his castle - their world.  A lively conversation that never ended until the middle of one dark morning.  Why do old people always want to know what time it is in the middle of the night?

Chopped onion and celery sautéing in a pan when he walks in the door and he will think you have really done something.  When Jesus comes, you are going to say "Just a minute, Jesus!"  Do it now.  Just do it, when the going gets tough.  One roll is enough.  Go fix the cornbread.  Are you working on your book?  What about the story?  You take too many pictures.  I don't need a cat.  Don't you dare get me a cat.  I'm not big on fruit.   I used to think I could eat a whole pot roast.   I don't eat all day, except a coke at lunch.    I'd go without but I always have six eyes looking back at me.  Happy Altoids!

No party for me.  Eighty is old.  I don't know how many years I have left (but her mother lived to ninety-three.)  True.  Pull out the map.  Check the itinerary.  Some items marked will be drive-by viewings only.  California.  New England.  Italy.  New Orleans.  Her bags are packed.  Here we come Rome.  Let the whirlwind commence.


a girl who loves her Mama 


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