Sunday, May 14, 2017

Interview With My Mother, Part III


Dearel:  So, Mom.  Eisenhower is President, we are just beginning to enter the jet age, and you and your mama are about to venture out on the grand adventure of your lives...opening a restaurant and winning riches.

Mom:  Well, you already know that's not true.  But we sure tried.  We hit every thrift shop in town, buying sets of old dishes and glassware.  And we swabbed down that rickety old joint just off '99 Highway, and Mama cooked her Okie food in back and I worked waitress and the register.  But, because we had sunk all our money into the place, and because your daddy quit his job in Fresno, we were forced to live in a dirt floor shack down behind that old cafe.  You children took your bath in a wash tub and I don't believe I've ever been more ashamed of how we were living.

Dearel:  And just as the cafe was beginning to take off....just as we were filling up the joint with car salesmen and highway mechanics, the roof fell in.

Mom:  Yes, your dad finally laid the straw that broke the camel's back....selling our business out from under us and taking off with the money.  That of course was the year of "the water biscuits" and the "Mrs. Norman miracle"....the hardest year of all...but the year I realized that I could only rely on myself to raise you kids.

Dearel:  Mom, those were the tenuous years...the years of empty cupboards and "hard candy Christmases", yet it was those years when I realized how great you were.  I was never more proud of you than when you were bearing your greatest burdens.

Mom:  I don't need to tell you that it wasn't easy.  Every one in our big extended family urged me to sign up for welfare.  I tried.  But when they asked me to sign an arrest warrant on your dad, for non-support, I just couldn't do it.  I was deathly afraid that you kids would resent me for doing that once you were old enough to understand.  So, I worked those waitress jobs, and I learned to get by on little sleep, and I rose each morning and washed and ironed your clothes, cooked your dinners, brow beat butchers for cheap meats, then went out each evening to wait tables.

Dearel:  And through it all you waived some magic wand and somehow kept us straight, kept us fed and clothed and instilled in us the vast importance of getting an that we might never go through what you did.

Mom:  Well, I knew that an education, aside from family, was the most important thing in life.  I remember I once told you, late one night, when you were home from military leave, that I always wondered how far I might have gone had I an education.  As you know, I made a habit of reading the newspaper daily...tried to learn of the world through that cheap printer's ink...but I always knew it would never be enough.  I'm only glad that it was enough for my children.

Dearel:  Mom, you might like to know that, in the last several years, I have written about you dozens and dozens of times.  I have documented your love for us.  I have written about miracles you performed nearly as miraculous as Jesus and his basket of fish and two loaves.  I won't embarrass you by repeating them in your presence, but I hope you know I haven't forgotten a single one of them in the 50 years since you last performed them.    Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Mom:  Thank you son.  Do you remember my favorite slogan, "God will provide?".  Well son, guess what....he does.

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