My mother was born 104 years ago this summer. She’s been gone for eight years now. Mother’s Day has not become the distant flicker that Father’s Day is for me. So a few pleasant thoughts about her pass through my mind around this time of year. She managed a woman’s clothing store when I was a small child and I spent part of many days there. As a result I observed a great deal about how women shop for clothes and even now, unlike almost ever other guy I see fretting around the edges, I’m not the least bored when I’m with someone trying out the latest. Find it fascinating how little displays — and display tactics — have changed in more than 50 years. (I do find the mannequins with no heads freaky, though. Especially when they plop a hat on top of the sawed-off neck.)
Mother encouraged me to use my imagination to make up stories and read books out loud to her. Especially on the two-day-long train ride we took together each summer to visit her cousins (who she grew up with like sisters) in Oregon. My father stayed home almost always. I drove us out there a couple of times after I was old enough. But it had none of the adventure or romance of train travel back then.
Any instant I can remember us seated across from each other in a sleeper car, looking out the window at the flickering afternoon light. The old line is that you are never really gone until no one remembers you any more. I go further and believe that so long as one person remembers a moment it continues, still exists.
There’s only one of us to remember now, Mother. But as long as I’m around, that train will roll on, those afternoons will never end.