My Mother in Memory

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.)

Vutton

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.

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