By JOHN CARTER
A sight that always catches my eye when we’re out to eat is a mother and her young son eating alone. Carole sometimes has to touch my arm to regain my attention. Discretely, I observe the interaction between them and wonder what their story is. Is she a single parent? Where is her husband, his father? Do they live here or are they traveling? Does she work? What grade is he in?
My curiosity is aroused because they remind me of my mother and my childhood. I was an only child and my father’s work frequently took him away from home – either shift work or traveling. On two different occasions he had to live apart from us for a short time. And although mother always worked outside our home, together, we “held down the fort.”
Once in 1947 when Daddy was ending his job in Lubbock and we didn’t have a car, mother and I lived with her Cousin Annabelle on the east side of Fort Worth. Early each morning, we rode the bus together into downtown where mother worked. Then she would put me on another bus bound for the south side where I stayed with the Farmer family and went to school. Each evening the process was reversed and we often ate out together before returning home.
Mother was already a “woman of the ‘90s” in the ‘40s, competent in her roles as wife, mother and employee. Although the demands on her were heavy, I never felt that I was a burden to her or that I was being dragged along. She made it clear that my well being was her top priority. As I look back, I’m amazed at her dedication and courage.
If mother was afraid of anything, I wasn’t aware of it at the time. But in retrospect, I think she did have one fear. To paraphrase the poet Robert Frost, her fear was that the very best she had to offer might not be found acceptable in Heaven’s sight.