In one way or another, my mother has been with me every day of my 76 years, yet she never gave me the chance to say goodbye. On a beautiful Spring Monday in April, much like today, she mowed the yard, took a shower, fixed dinner, and while she washed the dishes and Dad dried, she just fell to the floor and died. Just like that.
I had seen her Sunday in the parking lot of the Presbyterian church when she and Dad met us to drop off the kids – they often wanted to have them for the weekend, and that made all of us happy. I never dreamed it would be the last time I would see her smile or her beautiful face or kiss her goodbye. Or thank her for being the most incredible Mother. I’ve often thought of the shock and pain we all felt at the time, but now that I’m beyond her 72 years, I’m grateful that she never suffered; just simply left us as she would have wished. There’s always been some comfort in that.
Yet as Mother’s Day approaches – I still miss her.
Just before Labor Day, I took my Boston sister, Anne, to my favorite place to while away some time in the Northwoods. In fact, Chucky Lou’s Last Dance is the inspiration for the title of my blog. It may be the last big tourist weekend of the summer, but unlike the malls and city shops, the proprietors in our out of the way places operate on their own time. Though disappointed to find the Closed for the Season sign, I like the fact that there is an independent spirit about the shop as well as unexpected treasures within.
It was a beautiful drive, a perfect setting to take a picture we’ll remember – and always, the anticipation of being together and returning next summer…
…or so I was admonished by my maternal grandmother, Edith. My grandfather, Charles, was a Presbyterian minister, which probably prompted her reaction to my backyard pose at 12 or so. Some time after that, my mother invited me to sit on the porch with her, and I anticipated the topic she wished to address. SEX. I remember the motion of the glider, the smell of its plastic cover and the hum of the streetcar as it passed our house. But I also remember trying to be serious because I already knew more than what she thought I should know about SEX. And that brings me to today – about 63 years, a few boy friends – all followed by one great marriage.
Last night I watched the Emmy Awards, and after it was over I watched The Normal Heart on HBO, a well documented movie about AIDS. The night before I caught up on two episodes of Ray Donovan, and they had some explicit scenes. I also like Sons of Anarchy that has some but less of it. Next Valentine’s Day, Fifty Shades of Grey will probably gross millions, and even some of the historical novels I’ve read this summer contain shades as dark as those. Even my 97 year old Aunt Mary liked a little ‘romance’ as she viewed it, in her reading. Cleavage and the most minimal bikinis are all over the place, and schools have to define in detail what’s acceptable attire.
So, flashback to my high school days when TV was hardly allowed to expose a thing, in pool class boys swam nude (true fact in Waukesha, Wisconsin), reading Lolita was deemed scandalous and the closest I got to porn was a flasher trying to entertain me in his window as I walked past. It seems we’ve come full circle, and so many things are tolerated that never were – but after all these years, what do I honestly say to my granddaughters in this climate about having sex?
Its wonderful beyond words. BUT, know when it’s right and when it’s not; try to be sure it’s love not lust and be safe always.