Monday, June 5, 2006

At the Hot Corner

It was over ninety degrees Memorial Day Eve. Hotter than an empty can of Dr. Pepper thrown and discarded on a newly paved road with its tar melting away into a pungent vapor. So hot that I finally put my wallet away and turned on the AC for the feline population I'm living with, the ones with fur coats and panting from the hot air.

It was the day when my family had a little get together at the cemetery where Mom is and isn't. My brother-in- law, Dan who is a minister by trade and faith, conducted a nice service where he asked us to share some things we remember about Mom. I would have said something but it really isn't in my nature and I know Mom would have been the last person to expect that I would say something. If I had I think I would have said something about one of the last coherent conversations Mom and I had before the morphine she was taking for the pain her cancer was causing caused her mind to space out. Mom told me that she really wished she had saved some of my not to be broadcast radio shows I taped as a kid.

This memory came to me listening to Bob Dylan's XM Satellite Radio Show, Theme Time Radio Hour, particularly the second show played during the week of Mother's Day, a show dedicated to music about mothers. What I thought about saying at the cemetery was what Bob said to open this installment of his show. How moms are the only people in the world that can divide their love equally among ten children and yet each child has all her love. I liked that.

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly six years since Mom died. Things have gone by fast, things that don't mean much, things that mean everything. During the sad moments I wish Mom were still around because I know she'd make everything just a little bit more bearable. During the happy moments, those few and far between, I wish Mom were around because there was no one better to share happiness with, no one who rooted harder for me to be just a little bit happier but didn't push it in any way.

The moments are there. There was a moment on the way home from a friend's graduation party when I was stopped at the stop light at the corner of Lexington and Grand Avenues in St. Paul when an attractive middle aged couple exited the Lexington a fancy restaurant my Mom ate at once, a place far too rich for me and my friends. I happened to overhear this couple's conversation that began as a red Mini-Cooper drove on by. The woman told the man that she wished she could drive one of those. The guy pointed to my scooter and told the woman that she would be happier with what I was riding on. I wanted to interrupt them and point out that I have both and that either choice would be a good one. But I didn't, I just smiled and waited for the light to turn green. (It usually does.)

Mom probably would have frowned at my scooter riding, having forbade all us kids from getting a motorcycle. One of her few steadfast rules. But the episode by the Lexington reminded me of the joke I learned from J.D. Salinger about what one wall said to the other. "Meet you at the corner!"

Mom would have laughed. She would have also would have chuckled at the latest installment of Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour that featured songs about baseball and included a wonderful opening where Bob sang a smile inducing acapella version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Speaking of happiness Mom loved the late Max the Cat almost as much as I did and not only because he was a great cat, but because she knew how much I loved him and that was good enough for her. Thus I think she'd also be quite fond of the three cats who keep me company, keep me entertained and keep me from slipping off into the darkness for too long a time. Mom would have loved how Thompson, the three-legged cat who has had issues of trust, undoubtedly since the accident where a trap cost him his leg and nearly cost him his life, will take a step forward in trusting life once again even if later he'll take a couple of steps backwards. The way he deals with each day is enough to forget at how unfair life can be. It's a struggle but one he manages.

Mom would have also loved how Theo, the youngster, loves to launch himself into my arms and how Diego-san is the best cuddler since Stephanie Jane (not that I remember or knew). I didn't say any of this at the cemetery but hopefully Mom heard anyway.

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