I am four years old and I am walking with my Dad at Eaton’s in downtown Vancouver. It is early 1960’s, all of the men are in suits and women in flower dresses. The sun is streaming in and the noise from the gathered shoppers is distracting to me. My Dad keeps a good pace, and it would be easy to lose him. I’m not worried, because my Dad is wearing brown dress shoes and all of the other gentlemen are wearing black. I am walk-running and staring at my Dad’s shoes, making sure not to hold him back (holding my Dad back would mean staying back at the house in Whonnock next time).
At some point, the brown dress shoes stop, and I look up to make sure my Dad is still with me. It is not my Dad! I can still remember the absolute terror of that moment, and the man who was as out of fashion as my Dad. He looked at me, and then walked off into the sunshine. I swear, as God is my witness, the next thing I heard was my Mother’s voice echoing across Eaton’s like a bugle horn, screaming my name! It was LOUD! I yelled back, we were reunited and everyone was happy (although many had ears ringing, my Mom could belt it out) except for my Dad (it was somehow his fault, but as long as I wasn’t in trouble it was all good).
My Mom’s voice was quite the instrument. She used to sing on CKNW Radio with her sister Laura on talent shows, they would sing songs like the Clooney Sisters. I don’t remember my Mom’s singing voice, but do recall what she said. Since she has passed, I feel more brave each year, and free to let you in one some unique parts of her personality.
My Mom had a lifelong friendship with profanity. If you met her once, you would think she was a sweet person and very generous (she was). If you knew here a little, there was a good chance a ‘dammit’ would slip out from time to time. If you knew my Mom well? She could put a trucker to shame. My Dad, who never swore, would often refer to her ‘potty mouth’ and her retorts (‘go to hell, Ira!’) were a real education for me.
I never cared, always thought it made my Mom cooler than the other Moms. Along with her incredible temper, it gave my childhood some color, and humor (something she had in real abundance). My Mom was a fun lady, I miss her laugh and her humanity and (incredibly) her way with the swear words.
Happy Mother’s Day! Hug your Mom and make sure she has a great day. You would not be the person you are without her. I love you Mom. Say hi to Dad and his brown shoes. (Usual post at 8:30).