I remember also my father's regaling of his lying on the floor in our hallway and being unable to catch his breath. I remember his saying, "I am 29 years old, and I cannot breath. If I don't quit now, I'm going to die." And he quit, cold turkey, ne'er a cigarette did we see in our house again, ever.
1968, it was. I am 21 years older, now, than my father was then. My own son is, at this time, 2 years younger than my father was then.
I begin to see my parents, and my whole life, in an entirely different light, as I--ahem--age.
Clint unwrapped an ice cream sandwich tonight, after dinner. He kept an eye on the television, and unwrapped another. For some reason, it jarred a memory of my mother, those ice cream sandwiches.
When were were little, my sister and I would spend 1 week a summer with my Grandmother, in Deselm, Illinois. Population (in my young eyes, and still not far off) the 4 people that lived in my Grandmother's house. Grandma, 1 aunt, and 2 uncles. And a neighbor named Whitey.
My Dad worked nights, and I remember my sister and I worrying about Mom, being home alone every night while we were gone. Poor Mommy, so bored and lonely.
I look back now, of course, and realize that she was all of 33 years old. She was a daycare mother in our 3-bedroom ranch house, and took care of up to 10 children--babies and preschoolers all--by herself every day. When those 10 kids went home at 5:00, she still had two (wonderful, yet) screechy little girls at each other's throats at any given time, to tend to.
I see, now, that she was probably not as miserable as we imagined her, when we vacated for a week.
I have a vivid memory of Mom telling us of "ice cream sandwiches" that she'd made while we were gone. She had baked a chocolate cake, butterflied it, put a layer of ice cream on the bottom layer, topped it off with the second half, and put the whole lot back in the freezer.
Bubble baths and candles and reading, and homemade ice cream sandwiches.
She had eaten them all. By herself. She didn't save any ice cream sandwiches for me and Teri!! And she never made them for us after telling us about them!! Can you believe it? No ice cream sandwiches for her two bratty daughters?
I'm writing about this now because I'm going to write about her tomorrow. I like remembering my mother as I remembered her, and now, as I never knew her.
My sister and I never saw her as a gorgeous woman that basked in a candle-lit bubble bath, or eating pan of homemade ice cream sandwiches all by herself.
I see it now.
I see her now.
I wish that she could know that.