“When I told the book club that I was going back to work, they hit the roof,” Mother said as her hands leaped into the air. “Then one-by-one, the women all went back to work. It was the best thing I ever did. I would have wasted those years.”
Today is my mother’s 92nd birthday. When I had lunch with her last week, she asked me the usual questions. “How’s Jessica, in China, isn’t she? Is David still driving my car? How are the dogs? Any news?”
As our visit progressed, I asked Mother about her past. Short-term memories slip away from her easily these days. But the past lives in memory grooves.
“I remember you weren’t happy working for the guy in the resource room when you went back to work.”
“No, I wasn’t, but that’s why I went back to school.”
“You were in college the same time I was. What was it like being a college student again?”
“It was ok, except for that terrible math class. Your father and sister talked me into it. They said they’d help me but even they couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on in that class.”
I waited as Mother entered another memory groove and told me a story I’d never heard before.
“I sat next to this fellow, and I used to pinch him.” Mother giggled.
“You pinched him?” I leaned forward.
“Yes, when he started to fall asleep.”
“Did he mind your pinching?”
“Oh no, he asked me to pinch him. He bought me a cup of coffee on break as thanks.”
“Why was he falling asleep?”
“He worked the night shift and like me was finishing his degree so he could be a full-fledged teacher.”
“Did you pass the class?”
“Yup, we both did, I don’t know how.”
“I guess it took a lot of pinching and several cups of coffee.”
“It sure did,” she said then cycled back into the original groove.
“When I told the book club that I was going back to work, they hit the roof.” Mother’s hands leaped into the air again. “Then one-by-one, the women all went back to work. It was the best thing I ever did. I would have wasted those years.”
“And they were good years.”
“Yes, they were. Some of the best years of my life.”
Happy birthday, Mother! Thank you for sharing your stories. I love you.