Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dancing with Mrs. D

A calm ride this morning in the warmth sunshine dodging the articles of clothing. It must have been an interesting evening. Probably those rowdy baseball fans.

A quiet spring morning with the sound of spring flying chorus, passing a few joggers plugged in avoiding the song of spring, where the lime green has turned to rolling piles of iron brown.
With thoughts of the gathering yesterday to celebrate nine decades of a strong country woman who would become my second family for a while.

A wonderful woman, as I remember, who would tolerate a mass of teenagers to pile all over her living room with arms and legs flaying, trying to find partners in a sea of the English invasion. I think she enjoyed the insecurities, passion for fun, and innocence of the times.

The streets are already block off for the parade of mostly white town folk walking up and down the street of monuments showing off silly hats, dressing up their dogs, and drinking in public. I wave at one of the yellow t-shirted keepers of the barricades, sitting in a folding chair under the shade of nature's umbrella. "Not a bad way to spend the day", I thought as he returned to his book. This will be a great day for people watching.

It seemed as if the drive way up to the house was a caravan of automobiles. One after one they found a spot and dumped their cargo of people I did not know. I may have met them years ago, but the faces and names were not familiar. It was like being at a high school reunion at a school you did not attend. But this was a gathering for another family. A family I had become part of for a brief time.

It will be a good day for the Fan eateries I think as I stop for a water break. A lad on a skateboard passes by then stops for traffic. I look at him and think "What an free soul". A backpack, pair of jeans, dirty t-shirt and skateboard was all he needed. Life should be that easy.

I hung next to the wall not partaking of the food stuffs or alcohol in abundance being introduced to complete strangers. A kinda a country feel in these folks but it was a city setting with high ceiling and artwork on the walls. Meeting kids and grand kids and being barked at by the roaming boxer. "Must be the orange sweatshirt", one person laughed.

A couple of guys climb ladders for a day of painting the wide porches of the 1920 row houses that so many of my high school buddies grew up in. Pass the school which brought them all together before I met that group allowing me to meet Mrs. D.

Finally noticing a pause in the family acknowledgments to the figurehead of the family, I made my way through the crowded living room to see the elderly women in a bright green top. Sitting in a walker bent over from time she looked up with a sparkle in her eye.

"Mrs. D. do you remember me?" I asked in a quiet voice trying to see what you cognizance was. "I'm Cliff Leftwich" I announced. She looked me in the eye and smiled. We shared pleasantries and it was a special moment. I always thought of her as my second mother, since during a major time of change, she was always pleasant and accommodating to me. She had invited me to go camping with her family, didn't interrupt me from banging on her piano, or stop me from lusting over young ladies in her house.

My yard bunny is out this morning but I figured she was busy hiding those eggs. What should I do with this warm sunny day of spring? Paint? Vacuum? Dig in the dirt? Just enjoy the day!

She told me she had asked about me over the years and had been told crazy tales about me. I chuckled. What had my friends told her? It was probably true even though they didn't know the half of it. "We all turned out pretty well" I responded. She smiled. A lot of it was because of her.

Earlier in the afternoon, before the room became packed with Walters, and Johnsons, and other family names; I had pulled out some old black and white photos taken in Mrs. D's living room. I tried to explain them to the hostess and Mrs. D's grandson. "Here is you dad being molested on the sofa, here is Art being levitated, here is the remands of the snow party that lasted overnight". "Where you drunk?" the grandson asked. "No, we didn't drink back then." replied his father. We looked at each other with a smile of innocence lost and I agreed, "We were good boys." That seemed to be foreign to the lad. "And here is your grandmother on the phone." from the glossy image from 1966. The brother and sister commented on the imitation artwork on the wall over the phone with the same bickering chatter I had remembered.

Another sip of water before the long climb up the hill before me washed down some of the pollen coating my throat. I was warm enough to breath easily through the nose taking in the smells of freshly cut grass and full blooming decoration. I could avoid the hill, but it would only be going around the mountain when she comes. Instead, I waited for the jogger to pass by between the oncoming traffic and those parked.

Later in the sun-drenched afternoon, I ventured back into the thinning room to hear the sounds of the 40's big bands and noticed the star of the day rocking back and forth to the strands of horns, reeds, and harmonies. Her son, spread out on the low soft sofa would lean back and remind her the name of the singer he had downloaded. With a sharp wit, she responded she knew the sound of the singer. Other than the frailness of the body, she was dancing to the tunes of her childhood. As yellowed pictures were passed around, she was lost in the dream of her youth. I joined her in the dance to songs I knew all too well myself.

Cooled down and rehydrated, it is time to change bikes and push on to the day's assignment. Reality of the neighbors barking dog awakes me from a few hours in someone else life. The last sip of cold coffee and I'm off. Now the black and white captures of a pass time can reside in an different house for they are their memories in their former space.

Thanks for the dance, Mrs. D.

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