Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Always On My Mind

Parents are not cool. There comes a point in every child’s life where they realize this. Some of us learn it early on. I swear my eight-year-old son is already questioning my dance moves. I can see it in his eyes. That look, “Mom please, don’t. “ But, he’s only seven. Underneath it all there’s still a flash of a smile. Some grain of love. My daughter on the other hand, she’s six, I can do no wrong. I can pull out all the worst moves- shopping cart, running man, a bad attempt at the caterpillar. She doesn’t judge. In her eyes, I do no wrong; she’ll be right beside me mimicking every move.

When I was younger (six, seven, eight, it doesn’t really matter) my mom loved to sing. We had a singing machine in the kitchen. It was technology’s first attempt to create an at home karaoke unit. And it actually played 8 tracks. Using a combination of The Singing Machine, and her record player with microphones, my mom would belt out country ballads all afternoon, well into dinner preparation. She was a country music fan- Dolly Parton, Dusty Springfield, John Denver, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson.

Willie. Oh Willie, You Are Always On My Mind.

My mother would belt out country ballads in the kitchen. My sisters and I recall one day when she actually roller skated around the butcher block island in the center of the kitchen. The room filled with the smell of cooking yellow onions, ground beef, tomato sauce- the makings of one of our regular meals- and she whizzed up and down the wooden floors boomeranging off the island and cruising back toward the Singing Machine. Now that I’m a mom I can look back and understand this better. She would not be defeated by the boring monotony of cooking dinner for a family of five. The hours between 3:30 and 5:30 can be grueling. But not in our house. My mom was fun.

Dolly Parton, Working Nine to Five.

One September day, as I was entering sixth grade we went to buy a new pair of sneakers. The local shoe store was called Feet First. My mom was best friends with the owner. Actually, it seemed like wherever we went she was best friends with everyone. Scanning through the selection I was drawn to a pair. Not my usual pick. Normally, I would go for Tretorns. They were safe, basic white tennis shoes. Your only dilemma was what color the tiny wave would be. But, on this day, something caught my eye.

John Denver, Take Me Home Country Roads.

They were maroon. Ugly maroon. They were Nikes. A bigger, chunkier sneaker than I usually wore.

The swish was silver. Maroon and silver. Not a combination that you see very often. But, that wasn’t why I was drawn. They were Willie’s shoes. Willie Nelson’s shoes.

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