After my sister Leslie and I left my grandmother in Charlotte, NC with my parents and my sister Marcia in January 1975, I went back to Binghamton, NY, and stayed in my grandmother’s house. She had a coal stove, and I had SEEN her operate for years. But seeing and doing were two different things, and soon, the fire went out, and the pipes froze.
I was pretty depressed after the breakup of my marriage to the Okie, so I mostly watched television. I mean hours at a time. My grandma’s set got only one station, WNBF-TV, the CBS affiliate. So I watched the soap operas As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, Guiding Light, and Search for Tomorrow. Don’t remember watching any game shows except Match Game. Viewed the bulk of the CBS nighttime schedule, except perhaps the movies. And, heaven help me, I watched Hee Haw, which by that point was in first-run syndication. I told you I was depressed.
Usually on Thursday evenings, and occasionally other nights, I’d visit my friend Carol (not to be confused with my wife Carol), washed up, watched TV at HER house (The Waltons). The then-current travails of her life probably kept me sane.
Occasionally, I’d walk downtown to the library, if it wasn’t too cold. Don’t remember reading books, though I did read the newspaper. I DO remember listening to the LPs on the record player. One time I was playing the first side of the Beatles’ Abbey Road, and I cranked up the volume louder and louder. The song I Want You (She’s So Heavy) ends abruptly, which I knew from plenty of previous plays; at that moment, however, I thought briefly that I had died.
The electricity at my grandma’s house was spotty. I had a space heater that I could not run with the refrigerator, lest I blow the circuit. Didn’t matter; the house was so cold, I didn’t NEED the refrigerator. I DID need the space heater, though, and the colorful quilt that kept me from freezing.
One night in February, I woke up with a start. The quilt had caught fire, having fallen on the space heater. It generated an acrid stretch, which might have killed me, if the fire, which I was somehow able to smother, hadn’t.
A day or two later, I called my mom in North Carolina and told her this story. And she told me that she knew this had happened. She woke up from a dream, or a vision, and called me mentally to wake up, and I did. This is NOT the type of tale my mother generally told, so I believed her, believe her still.
This being the fourth anniversary of her death today, I want to say, “Thanks, Mom. I love you, too.”
4 thoughts on “Mom, 40 years ago: taking care from far away”
I wouldn’t doubt her for a moment: mothers just know these things.
Yes, I remember that incident…she said she woke up and could not go back to sleep, needed to stay awake for you to wake up…I believe it too…thanks for sharing. Love to you and all our family.
In his memoirs, the composer/pianist Paderewski tells of being stranded in St. Petersburg after having his money and luggage stolen as a young man. A kind, extremely poor stranger gave him a place to stay and shared his bread and tea with him to keep him alive. Two weeks later Paderewski received a letter there from his father with enough money to get him home to Warsaw. Once in Warsaw, he asked his father how on earth he knew where he was and that he needed money. From the book:
“Oh, that is easily explained,” he answered simply; “I had a dream. I saw you in a desperate position in St. Petersburg, and I immediately sent asking the post office to enquire for you.” That was miraculous. My father had found me through a dream.
As for me, my family was gathered for nightly prayer one night when I was nearly half a continent away in college. Apparently, part way through, my father suddenly stopped. After a few moments of silence he prayed, “Heavenly Father we need a miracle for Melanie.” It turned out that at that moment my roommates were rushing me to the emergency room. I nearly died that night.
I believe that God inspires parents on behalf of their children and listens to their prayers. What a beautiful story and mother you have, Roger, and what a blessing you are and will be to your daughter. <3 M
Whoa. Guess it goes to show that moms know… they always know.