081: My Mother the Willy-Wag

My mother, who’s a willy-wag, wore European airs. She’d correct our applications.

“Call it the loo,” she said, as she stirred syrup in her coffee.

It got bad outside the house as our friends had difficulties understanding what we believed or knew.

“Bring the carriage around,” she said, by which she meant what my father, who passed on two years ago, called the Devil’s heap.

“That thing’s tires are about as bald as a turnip,” my brother said.  “In what country would that hunk qualify as a carriage?”

“Or even a car,” I said. But we let her keep the ideas. We’d bring her the carriage.

Of course, the reason I say European airs is because she began her change from car to carriage after the town had a visit from a gentleman who went by the name Gregory. Some said he was from Spain, others Sweden, and yet others just chalked him as a common Yankee.

His visit coincided with my father’s illness, which coincided with Gregory’s use of words like carriage and loo and “fascinating” in his spoken acts at planning meetings, as his job was chief surveyor for the state and some bridge needed building nearby or somewhere.

You could often see my mother on walks with Gregory, she in a sun hat, he in his evening suit, my mother perhaps finding comfort from the coming horror of a husband’s death.

“Let her alone,” my father told us, pointing more dramatic at my brother who’d already promised to pound the Yankee to pig shit for horning in or playing the inappropriate comfort card.

“You let her be and let him be too. I told her to move on, to think about what’s best for you furking dandylions. “

We watched from a distance. There my father died. There my mother soon took up with the Spaniard or the Swede or the Yankee. There by the big oak they buried him. There on the town green we watched our mother and Gregory hold hands and share intimate words. There we saw our mother box our father’s suits and send them to charity. There we saw but were unable to hear Gregory tell our mother that the job was over and that he must go.

We agreed not to “Tell her so.” We’d already taken to words like fascinating and aspiration and lovely and for some reason hadn’t the stomach to make her regret more than she might already.

“Gregory says it’s fascinating work, and that the bridge will clear way for all kinds of commerce,” she said.

“You mean like so everyone around here could start buying fancy cookware and say shit like wondrus?” my brother said.

My mother smiled at him.  It was one of her newer, more sophisticated smiles, one that disclosed a broader sense of the possibilities of this world, Gregory or no Gregory, a look that was dangerous, sincere, and potentially ruthless if chuckled after or outwardly funned with.

“Okay, I mean say things like wondrous,” my brother corrected.

“That’s right, you little twig, and don’t you forget it.”

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