“I’m starting a blog,” she said simply. Matter-of-factly.
Excuse me, you’re what? I thought, scrunching up my nose in disbelief. We sat side-by-side, my mother and I, feet stretched out on the dual recliner couch, twin Macbooks open on our laps: a mirror image.
I closed my computer; clearly this deserved my full attention. “You don’t write,” I said simply.
“Well, maybe not anymore,” she countered, “but I have... and I can.” A defensive tone circled her words like a force field. “Where do you think you get your talent from anyhow?”
I sighed in concession. “What are you going to name it?” My question was met with a shrug. “That’s where I need your help,” she said sheepishly.
She wanted to be a writer, yet she couldn’t even be creative enough to think up a name for her own blog. I was annoyed and I told her so. After all, she had raised me to speak my mind.
Her defensiveness melted away and a sad frown remained there on my mother’s face. Oh crap. She looked dejected, almost childlike. “It’s not going to be a public blog, so it’s not like it has to be perfect,” she said. “It’ll be more like a diary... for you.” Crap crap crap.
Her blog now has a name, and a total of eight private posts. I’m learning something new with every read. I’ve even shed a few tears. I never knew, for example, that my father proposed to my mother on Valentine’s Day. Or that she – like me – had skipped her senior prom: too cool for school.
A mirror image, even back then.
I never knew that she had her wisdom teeth extracted as a teen. She was 16. My father was 21. They had just recently gotten together. “I met my boyfriend’s family shortly after we began dating,” she wrote. My mother had referred to my father –her husband of almost 37 years – as her boyfriend. It was funny. I smiled.
She went on to describe my father’s relationship with his older brother Kevin. “They hung out all the time... For Kevin’s 23rd birthday, Mike bought him a case of beer, minus one bottle. ‘You’ll get a whole case next year after you turn 24,’ Mike said with a laugh. I’ll never forget that.”
Eleven months later, her wisdom teeth had to be removed. Back then, that required an overnight hospital stay. “Mike agreed to drive me home from the hospital,” she wrote. “He kept his promise, but I will always wonder how.” He settled her into bed, being sure to leave the radio off so she wouldn’t hurt herself trying to sing, and fetched her a bowl of ice cream.
Before my father left to go home, he told her he had something important to say. “I couldn’t imagine what it could be,” my mother wrote. “We weren’t at the stage for a proposal yet, having just begun seeing each other... The news he told me still haunts me to this day.”
I’d always known that my uncle Kevin had been killed in a car crash at the young age of 23. I’d always known that my dad was there to witness it all. One detail I hadn’t known is that it happened while my mother was in the hospital having her wisdom teeth out.
It was 11pm. Kevin was sitting in his parked van at the local gas station. My father was standing outside the driver’s side window when he heard a screeching noise, headlights coming airborne towards them.
“It was a horrendous scene to say the least. Mike escaped with his life but Kevin had died on impact. I can’t imagine being a part of such a tragedy and surviving without a scratch. But what is even more amazing is how Mike could pick me up from the hospital and bring me home without saying a word, so as not to upset me. It’s a testament to his calm nature and concern for me. To this day, I’m truly not sure how that was possible.”
I’ve never doubted for one second that my father is a real stand up guy. I never knew, though, that he had always been that way. It’s no wonder I’m still single at 31; I’d wait forever for a guy who’s as great as my dad. Through my mother’s new hobby of documenting her life for me, I’m learning so much about them both. I’m grateful she started that blog after all – even though I had to help her think up the name. Go figure.
“Kevin would never receive his full case of beer as he didn’t live quite long enough to celebrate his 24th birthday. Rest in peace, Kevin.”