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If We Visited My Parents' Friends, Then My Father (z"l) Was Not Dead
It was my fantasy. If my mother and I drove three hours plus, we could reach a place, where my father of blessed memory (z"l) was still alive. A place with lots of leaves and people who seemed part of their land, rather than guests of it. A place where I could hear my father's voice, which is only faint to me now. A place, where my father and I were relative giants once I was no longer little, and which was full of pleasant surprises. A place, where perhaps no one remembered me well because I was the youngest and the younger ones always remember the older ones more than vice versa.
The Gently Painful Reality
Yesterday, the station wagon arrived at the white-clapboard house with its stone-slab steps. My mother was in the passenger seat as usual. My father (z"l) wasn't driving it, though, and his daughters weren't clambering restlessly around the back-seat and the way-back. It was just my mother and me.
Maybe my dad would be there already.
Last time we visited, I didn't even have a driver's license.
"Station Road. You just passed it," my mother said.
"Potter Road is what the GPS is telling me, not Station."
"I remember it was Station."
My mother remembered everything, too.
We got out of the car and saw that the party was down a mini nature-trail, in a clearing in the distance. My mom looked hopeless. "I can't make it down there [with my walker and bad back]."
"We'll ask the Gaineses to come up here."
"We can't expect them to leave the party they're hosting, Sarah."
"Well, let's at least go to the bathroom now."
I got my mother's walker out of the way-back, and she looked up at the house in despair. "I can't make it up there."
I had been the father, driving us to the Gaineses, and now, I was the mother. All I came for was to be the kid again, with two parents.
"I'm sorry, Mom, but I've gotta go," I said without making eye-contact.
A new, pleasant surprise: Two young boys appeared and said they would help us. I asked the older one to lead me to the bathroom inside the house.
"Here's the downstairs one," he told me, and as I walked toward it, I saw three horses in stone or cement relief on the wall and remembered them from when I was a kid. Nothing else other than the layout of the house was familiar.
When I emerged, I saw my mom sitting in the foyer, like magic; she had gotten herself up the steps -- or had the boys helped her?
And then more magic: My mom rolled slowly down to the clearing in the woods. My parents' friends, their youngest daughter and her musical husband -- who were the parents of the two sweet boys -- and several other friends were there, but my father wasn't...and my mother was, thank God.