Saturday, January 5, 2013
Saturday Musings, 05 January 2013
A woman reads from her newly released book in the background, a book about children whose parents failed to care for them. I've switched on the radio too late to hear if she speaks of herself or invented characters. But I do hear this much: Now that her parents have been buried, "at least we know where they are". She chuckles, and in response, I venture a small smile. Certainty measures our lives, and spins our difficulties into gold. Tarnished gold, sometimes, to be sure; but nonetheless, something to treasure.
My week soared and plummeted. A difficult war lost; an uphill battle won. New clients in the book; old clients abandoned from frustration at the rare but annoying failure to pay. A judge retires; a new judge takes her docket, and sits on high, hands in a steeple before his face, gazing down at me, wondering if I will prove a thorn in his side or a boon to his management of troubling issues. Film at eleven, ooh, ahh, ahh.
One child of our home throws his belongings onto the backseat and journeys to the rest of his life, on the last day of a fading year. Within twenty-four hours, he's pictured with a clutch of laughing, hugging friends in the back of a limousine hailed on the streets of Chicago. Thirty-five dollars for eight of us, he texts me, a day or so later, when the fog of an all-night celebration lifts. His mother's heart sings: no one drove after over-imbibing, his first New Year's Eve of legal age behind. Come on, Mom, he chides. I know better! You taught me better!
Those who can't do, teach. I close my eyes and see myself on many a New Year's Eve of decades gone by, always alone, always intoxicated, always driving. Before my 25th year, the hard slam of a board against the side of my head sent me staggering from a fog of ignorance. I swore that never again would I take the wheel of a two-thousand pound dangerous instrument after having so much as a drop of alcohol. I never killed, I was never injured, and the only damage came to my sweet little MG Midget which sustained a broken axle. But I placed myself, a few passengers, and the rest of those on the road in jeopardy, startled to consciousness by the sound of screeching brakes and the horrified stares of other drivers, some no doubt scared sober by seeing me run a red light at Kingshighway and Vandeventer at one a.m. on the first day of 1980. Any lessons that I've taught my son came honestly to my playbook. I know better, Mom. You taught me better.
Little Christmas looms. In the home of my childhood, the wise men would be waiting their move forward by a small hand. The Feast of the Epiphany signaled time to take down the Christmas tree, place it on the curb wrapped in yards of jute, and carefully stow the ornaments in their large cardboard box. My father wound the lights around a contraption made from a wire hanger, the mechanism by which he insured the ease of use in the next holiday season. Tinsel strewn on the front yard in puddles of melting snow; neatly packed gift boxes and smoothed sheets of wrapping paper beside the trash can; drying cookie tins in the drain basket. And the visitors brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the sweet-smiling baby in his bed of straw.
Tomorrow the second son of our household will follow his stepbrother's example, motoring from Kansas City to the town In Tennessee where he attends college. A week later, his sister's move to Omaha will be effected, my husband behind the wheel of the u-haul, she in her little car behind, up I-29 to her future. And we will become empty nesters, me for the second time, him for the first. Sheets will be washed and restored to the beds; stray socks taken down to the laundry, then tucked into the dresser drawers, forgotten until spring. Our funny little dog will settle back into her routine, the young people who pet, walk and tease her all gone away again. My husband will move his exciting business endeavors closer to fruition. I will start working on the book that I promised myself to publish this year.
And every once in a while, a text message from far away, or a picture on Facebook, will make my heart race. I will think of my mother, waiting for her children to come home, two sent to rescue two; one sent to rescue one; another struggling to reach home while the wind races round and the sirens blow. Our own stories drift to their quiet end, and our children now take center stage. As the home fires burn, I reassure myself that our children's scripts will have happy endings, because of the lessons we have taught them.
The Missouri Mugwump™
- M. Corinne Corley
- I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.