Riding On the Memory Train

I was able to give Mom an early Easter present today, thanks to the miracles of email and cellphones. Let me explain. It was some time after Christmas that I ran across the address of Mom’s best friend from college. I sent off a Christmas newsletter to her telling about Mom and we were able to start emailing each other. It has been such a treat over these last few months to share memories of Mom with Ruthie, who is one amazing woman herself. Between Ruthie and myself, we’ve been able to jog some great memories out of Mom. Some of them have been a little “off,” like the one where she insisted that she’d been riding in a car with Ruthie along the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Ruthie had stopped the car, jumped out, dipped her hand in the waters of Lake Michigan and then run back to “baptize” her. Consequently, I’m learning to doublecheck with Ruthie to make sure Mom has her facts straight.

It has been wonderful, though, to see the twinkle back in Mom’s eyes as she has thought back to those times in her life with her dear friend. And so, when Ruthie mentioned the possibility of talking to Mom on the phone, I knew that would be just what the doctor ordered for Mom. We coordinated schedules and today at noon, Mom sat in her recliner, I sat on the edge of Mom’s bed and I dialed Ruthie’s number. She answered right away and soon I passed the cellphone over to Mom and then sat back and watched the years melt away. It was great!

While they talked, I drifted off to my own car on the Memory Train. Mom, my brother, John, and I were crammed into an overloaded Oldsmobile driving through the backroads of Wisconsin. We’d left Marinette, Wisconsin that morning and had a long drive ahead of us to get to Mankato by nightfall. Mom had washed out some of her underwear the night before in the motel and it wasn’t dry yet. To my teenage dismay, she simply whipped out some clothesline, tied knots in her bloomers and attached them along a length of rope and then rolled the back window down just enough to stick the whole thing out the window before rolling the window back up to catch the end of the rope. Off we drove with the clothesline and Mom’s panties (which were NOT small dainty things) flapping in the wind.

Thank goodness we left the city limits quickly behind us and were soon out in the country. It was an election year that year and Mom was suddenly inspired to do her bit for her beloved Republicans. So there we were, driving through the farmland of Wisconsin and everytime we saw someone out in a yard, Mom would toot the car horn and yell out the window, “Vote Republican.” It wasn’t long before I’d forgotten my embarrassment and my brother and I had our windows down and were also shouting along with Mom. What in the world those farmers and their families thought, I can only imagine! Somewhere along our route, there’s a grandpa saying to his grandchildren, “Did I ever tell you about the time this crazy lady drove a big old car past my farm with a bunch of underwear tied to a rope hanging out the window? Must have been a Republican. Always airing dirty laundry.”

Yes, it was a good ride on the Memory Train today. I was rather sad when it pulled into the station and I had to get off.


One Response

  1. Little did I know when I checked into your blog that the first thing I would find was “Riding on the Memory Train.” It was fun to read it from your standpoint. You look like your Mom.

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