Mi Madre

I don't think I let my mother know enough how much she means to me. I mean I think she knows. But I doubt she knows how deeply her love has impressed me.

She had her first child when she was twenty. By the time she was 23, she was giving birth to her third (me). I don't think she had that illusion about white picket fences and a house full of children in mind for her future. But there she was. She was taken away from home by a handsome young Air Force pilot. He understood her vulnerability. She would feel the need to call her mother often, and he never said a WORD about how much that was costing him. He was gone a lot. I grew up in the style of the military officer's family. There were cocktail parties. Beautiful cocktail dresses! Officer's Wives Club events. Lots of moving around. Mom and some of the other wives started up a singing group in Japan called, The Whymsingers. I loved watching them practice and perform. It was really a very full life. And mom never made us feel like we were any trouble. To me, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. I know there are jokes made in movies about the horror of having your mother or father come to school, but when I saw my mother come to my school, I was overjoyed. She was there to see me! I loved seeing her beautiful self in the middle of my school day!

Dad was in the middle of the Vietnam war. I knew nothing of war. I just knew he was gone. I am sure that my mother was under a great deal of stress. I don't remember ever seeing it affect her. No doubt, she would tell you a different story. She was very much affected. Especially when she found out she was pregnant with baby number four! All I'm saying is that she didn't thrust any of that burden upon us. I feel I was so well cared for by my mother that, on the rare occasion when she needed to find a sitter for us, I used to sit by the window watching all the cars go by, hoping it would be her coming home. My dad would send us little notes from time to time. I have a little valentine from him. I've no idea how long ago it was sent. It's just one of those little individual valentines you give out to your classroom and it's signed, "To my sweetheart #3." My mother always honored my father. I learned this from her. To me, as a little girl, he was often just a shadowy figure that would come darken the doorway in his flight suit. As time went on, I got to know him better. He would be the man who would drive the station wagon and take us on trips. I began to want to spend time with him and find out the things he knew.

So as I grew older, I saw the couple. I saw how protective they were of one another. I rarely saw my mother or my father angry, but if someone was disregarding either of them, the other would surely make a strong protest! She made sure the home was a haven for him and he made sure that she was always provided for. When I was in Junior High School, she got a job outside the home. I would walk from school to her office and just spend time there with her. She'd give me money to go next door to 7-11 so I could buy a snack and maybe a word puzzle book. I loved seeing how proficient she was as a secretary. In my life, I had many opportunities to go to work with her when I wasn't quite well enough to go to school, nor ill enough to stay home. I would help her file and just do all the things she did. I loved every inch of her being. When I was a teenager, mum would take my sisters and me along with her to blood drives as volunteers (she had started working for the red cross up at the base). Yeah, we got those guys' blood flowing as we strutted about in our little mini skirts! But mom and dad still painted that lovely portrait of a real and true couple. Dad retired from the Air Force, mom began working more. But still home was a warm haven and dad would do things like make sure mom's car had gas in it and that the snow was all scraped off of it and that it was warm for her drive to work. She'd get to work and call him to let him know she made it. Every morning. They still do that shit. It's just too cute. 'Course they're both retired now, but when they are apart, they know how to assure one another that all is well.

I took my childhood for granted. I honestly thought everyone in the world had the gentle experience I had. I knew there were SOME bad stories, but I thought they must have been mostly good. I've come to find out the opposite is true. My story is unusual. As are my parents.