Everything comes from something: mountains from subterranean pressures, a child’s smile from words of encouragement, avalanches from one flake too many, and the universe itself from We Know Not What.
I came from Beverly, with Howard’s enthusiastic collaboration. The two became high school sweethearts in sleepy Selah, dancing to Glen Miller 78s scratching from a Victrola “talking machine” in a mahogany cabinet. Howard and Beverly tackled the brunt of adulthood in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with their brood of three and a hand-to-mouth veterinary practice. My task, it appears in hindsight, was to torment my mother. Case in point.
At age four, my first bicycle (training wheels, no coasting gears) gleamed. Boyhood demanded that I demonstrate to a fellow ruffian how (extremely) fast I could spin its rear wheel. Upended on handlebars and seat, pedals spun. My right hand flipped into the rear sprocket, grinding off the tip of my right index finger.
A crimson trail scored my path to home’s front door. Blood-slick, my right hand could not work the latch. I pounded and wailed. Mother never described that mess. Dad worked in our only car. Stranded with her distressed child, Mom drafted ancient Ralph from down the street to careen to the hospital. Surgical repairs ensued.
I woke the following morning; Mom was momentarily absent. Four year old wisdom demanded that I extract myself from bed and hide in a nearby broom closet. Mother and wide-eyed nurses eventually discovered me cowering. Back in bed, I cried. Mom snuggled me. I began healing.
The next week, a beat-up blue Dodge sat in our drive. We urchins littered it with beach sand, popsicle sticks, and, eventually, discarded surgical gauze.
Mothers repair what children tear. Mothers (and most fathers) labor at earth’s most crucial and thankless job. Ann Taylor (English, 19th century A.D.) wrote: “Who ran to help me when I fell, And would some pretty story tell, Or kiss the place to make it well? My mother” (My Mother, stanza 6).
Mom, thanks. Fifty years late.