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As a rule, writing isn’t a problem for me. I place my fingers on the keys and let go (sometimes, like now, I close my eyes). The problem is never about writing, but quite often, it is about knowing when to stop. Rambling can become a novella in no time flat. A single good idea can take on epic proportions such that what I meant to say is never heard.
I say that as a way of explaining this piece. I’d like to stay on course, and not stray too far. And yet, I am not optimistic in that regard.
This comes as fallout from a visit with my parents last evening. You’ll understand (hopefully) somewhere along the telling.
While most children are thrilled to have friends over, I was always a little apprehensive. I feared my parents would embarrass me. I can still remember how there was a mirror hung above the TV when I was a kid. You couldn’t watch TV without also catching what was going on in the kitchen behind you. “What was going on” was most always the same – my parents kissing. Yuk! Can you imagine the concern that would cause in a twelve year old girl’s heart?
And yet, now I see it differently (funny how that happens).
My grandfather owned a restaurant where my mother often worked the cash register. Child laws didn’t apply, or least not in the rural hills of Tennessee. My dad was a regular, and they met over the pinball machine. After several attempts, he finally convinced her to go out with him (but that’s another story involving the county fair and some ‘floozy from McMinnville’). Three months later, my granny rode with them over the state line into Georgia, where they were married. He was 23 and she was 14.
His tour with the Air Force ended two months later, with seven days between his discharge and starting a job he would work for more than fifty years. I was the result of that seven day break. By the time my mom turned 25, she had four children.
Other than grandparents, I don’t recall ever a time that my parents had a baby-sitter. They never went where we didn’t go, and if we went to the movie and it turned out to be a little too much, we’d leave. There were no theatres in our town, so movies were trips to the drive-in; lawn chairs in the backend of a pickup truck. But always, we were together; they were together.
As grown-up children, we’ve come to understand that there’s no sense arguing. If mama’s in the hospital, daddy will sleep on the floor. If daddy’s in the hospital, mama will sleep wherever she can, and more than once, they’ve been known to crowd into a hospital bed. I’m not sure I’d know what to do if my parents didn’t kiss before parting, even if it’s just a trip to the kitchen. Even now, they snuggle in the backseat as if they had just met.
If you ask my dad what colors he likes best, he’ll quickly respond, ‘whatever she’s wearing’.
But around to last night.
I was leaving. Daddy pulled himself up from the couch, and put his arm around mama. [Let me add another footnote here. Regardless of what time might take, it’s never changed the sparkle in his eye when he hears her voice or looks at her.]
I smiled, ‘yep, just when you thought it impossible, your heart got bigger’.
We walked to the door, and there were more hugs and more kisses.
‘Daddy, do you love me more every day?’
‘Yes……..I do’……..and then a crooked smile and that sparkle, ‘but not like her’.
I’ve come to understand that the first person to kiss me doesn’t matter nearly as much as the last.
. . .
they’re making plans
for me another life
than a sheet or two strung out
on the line
a fate I’d never trade
for less than hand-me-downs
a moment here for getting on
of love divine
. . .