Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mothers' Day Tale

The white low-heel pumps elevated her to just over six feet.  She thought them a flattering addition to her ensemble, though the cost at just over two-hundred dollars with tax had made them more than half the price of her entire outfit,  She topped herself off, so to speak, with the cute little short-brimmed fedora, white with a pink rosette attached to the black band on the right, the sole touch of color she wore this morning.

Midge was thankful, almost thrilled, that hats were back.  She had suffered through the long years during which they had fallen out of favor.  She liked to be stylish, but she had doggedly refused to go to church without a hat, and now, glory be, she was no longer the only woman in the pews properly so attired.

The white shantung two-piece suit had been a bargain she could not pass by, and it was flattering to her slender figure.  The skirt and jacket were both modest in cut, but the overall effect said, “This woman knows how to dress.”  So what if the calendar tells her that Memorial Day is yet two weeks away?  It is a fantastic Spring morning, and nothing would make her feel better than to be dressed in her newest and most flattering threads.  Do people refer to clothing as “threads” anymore?  No, probably not.  So much has changed.  So much has changed.

Midge had just observed her sixty-sixth birthday a week ago, but as she checked her appearance in the mirror one last time before departing her house, she thought, “Not too bad for an old lady, considering what I have to work with.”  And with a smile she stepped through her front door to start the walk to the little stone church about a mile away on Langer Road.  Midge’s smile faded as she walked, for she sensed that she was an island alone in a stream, being passed on all sides by those who gave her no thought, no consideration. who in fact, seemed unaware of her existence.  And this is Mother’s Day.  There could hardly be a worse time for this lady to go to church, to listen to the paeans to motherhood.  But she is faithful.

Midge Wilson was born in 1948.  She had never known a parent, father or mother, for she was an orphan, at least so far as anyone knew.  The infant Midge was literally placed on the doorstep of the rectory in a large city in the Midwest.  She had three or four years with a family that had adopted her, but the Wilsons both perished in an auto accident, and again the child was without parent.  No one in the Wilson family was willing to take another child into their home, and thus an orphanage became her home.  Midge was never again adopted, but she was bright and determined.  She graduated high school, went to business college.  She had been engaged as a bookkeeper, a job for which she was well-suited, and she made a career of it.   She had never married, and though she was an attractive lady, she seemed never to be able to make the kind of connection she believed was important to a marital relationship.  She laid her pencils and spreadsheets aside only a few months past. She was anticipating a life of travel, seeing the world about which she had only read.

Her little heels click as she walks along, but a sense of dread builds up within her.  Now she is seated in the sanctuary and the service begins.  Then, indeed, the praise of mothers begins, the recognition of special mothers, the oldest mother, the youngest.  The mother with the most children present this morning, and so on.  And Midge, having never known a mother’s love, having never been a mother, is less than worshipful in her outlook.  But she endures.

Following the service, Miss Wilson walks four blocks to a nice restaurant for the Sunday brunch.  She takes her time, enjoys the spread.  She manages to put thoughts of the past into the past and begins thinking about her future.  Her  mood lightens, the day brightens, and by the time she steps into the street again, she is her old cheerful self.  A few blocks along and she is in front of a nursing home. On impulse she turns up the drive, goes to the front door.  She is admitted when she explains that she hoped to visit for a few minutes with anyone who might not have family present on this day.  In the lounge, or parlor area, groups of people are laughing, chatting with loved ones and generally seem to be in the spirit of the day.

In one corner of the room sits a lady in a wheelchair.  This woman has clearly lived many, many years.  Midge could not guess how old she was, but some number up to the century mark would have been credible.  Midge pulled a chair near her and introduced herself.  “Have you family, Mother?”  Midge asked.

“Oh, yes,” replied the old soul, “I have two daughters.  They are the loveliest girls in the world.  I am sure they will be here soon.”

“That’s wonderful.  Perhaps we can visit a bit while we wait for them.  Could you tell me about your daughters?”

“Oh, yes.  Susan, Susan is the older one, Susan married well.  Her husband is an executive vice-president with Wells Fargo.  Patricia has four children, the darlingest grandchildren ever!”  And she lives...”  The old lady raised her head, looked toward the door and said, “Oh, look!  Here come my girls now!”

Susan turned to see a short plump woman in blue jeans leading two golden retrievers across the room.  Midge realized that the woman was on a mission to cheer people with her therapy dogs.  The lady came directly toward them, and the old mother reached toward the animals.  “Oh, my girls,” she said, “I knew you would come!”  And as she placed her hand on the head of the nearest beautiful beast, she continued, “Patricia, it has been so long.  How are you?  Are you well?  How are the children?”

Midge left the room and exited the building, all the while thinking.  I really haven’t the faintest idea about motherhood.  Never had a mother, never been a mother.  And now I am thinking maybe that is not a bad thing.

© 2014 David W. Lacy

7 comments:

Sharkbytes said...

I like it!

Grace said...

Not a bad thing at all...

Secondary Roads said...

Magnificent story.

vanilla said...

Faithful readers Sharkebytes, Grace, and Chuck, I think it wonderful that we set aside a day to celebrate motherhood, but it occurs to me that not all women are mothers, and not all people have known the love of a mother. Hence the story, and while I was at it I "experimented" a bit with style. This one is a bit different for me. Thank you for commenting.

Vee said...

So many thoughts while reading this. Mother's day is probably a sad day for a lot of women.

Shelly said...

This is terrific- and until I saw the tag that said fiction, I was so into it I fully believed it. You are a wonderful writer~

vanilla said...

Vee, as it turns out, Midge would have been quite comfortable at our church yesterday. I believe I am correct in saying that neither "mother" nor "motherhood" was ever mentioned.

Shelly, thanks so much; but, oh dear, you'll make my head swell.