Mother’s Day Post

It’s Mother’s Day, so I thought a post featuring my mother would be appropriate:

Manhattan Nevada is the diametric opposite of Manhattan New York. For starters everyone knows about Manhattan New York; the only people who know about Manhattan Nevada are the twenty one souls that live there. The lonely mining town boasts two bars, a post office and an assortment of shacks and trailers housing the miners who toil there.

The gold mine at the bottom of the hill employs most the town, except for the postmaster and the bartenders. The bars, known affectionately as the lower bar and the upper bar, due to their position on the one paved road through town, take turns being open as there is insufficient clientele for both to be open simultaneously.

At the top of the paved road that winds up the little canyon that cradles the town sits my parent’s single wide trailer. It is one of the nicest trailers in town, its only competition being the double wide trailer owned by my grandparents just down the ravine from ours.

I was twelve years old and I loved the little ghost town. It was a great place to be a boy. I had a motorcycle parked in our front yard, there were lizards, scorpions and bugs in plenty and adventures around every corner for a boy with an overactive imagination.

That night however my parents were fighting. My brother and I were holed up in our room, waiting out the storm on our bunk beds, wondering if our parents were going to get divorced. They weren’t of course but when you are a kid every fight seems like the end of the world, and my brother and I were sure that this was going to be it. It certainly sounded bad. I can’t remember what they were fighting about, probably one of the thousands of inconsequential things that couples find to bicker about, one of the things that I probably have fought with my own wife about. It doesn’t matter now, and it didn’t matter then, I just remember the raised voices and the tension in the air.

At the apex of the argument my mother came into our room. Her face was still red with anger, tears and frustration. “Lystra,” she huffed, “come with me.”  I remember thinking that the fight had to have ended with them deciding to get divorced. I guessed that they had decided to divide me and my brother up between them and Mom got me. Choking back tears I hopped off my bunk and put my shoes on and followed my Mom out the door of our trailer.

I clearly remember looking at my father as we left. He was sitting on our couch in the front room, his eyes a mirror of my mothers, while it hurt to see my Mom’s tears it was far scarier to see my Father’s, he never cried, unless it was bad, it had to be bad, I wondered how long it would be before I saw him again.

We loaded up in the Ford LTD and Mom sped down through the little town past both bars and out past the lower trailer park. I saw her choking back tears and decided that I could not add my own; it would be too much for her to bear. I was well acquainted with being the man of the house, I knew the duties my Father expected of me, I had to be strong, like him, for her.

The little paved road that led out of Manhattan went up a small hill before it dropped into Smokey Valley; there was a turn out at the top of the hill. My Mom swerved off the road and into the turn out in a cloud of dust and threw the car in park.

We sat in near silence, the only sound being the barely controlled sobs emanating from both of our throats. I heard my Mom breathing deeply, steadying herself with each breath and I tried desperately to imitate her. Finally she spoke, her voice was calm.

“Look at the sunset Lystra.” She said.

I looked; the sun was just going down behind the mountains to the west. The sky was lit up in crimson and purple, God’s palette is far more diverse than any man can devise. I have seen sunsets on three continents, and I have never seen anything to rival the desert twilight, the crepuscular glory of the high desert is beyond compare. That night it was magnificent, there were light layers of clouds to catch the prismatic rays of the dying sun and for a second I could only stare.

“I want you to remember this.” My mother whispered to me. “Life is hard Lystra, it is hills and valleys. There are going to be times in your life when everything is easy, you are going to be on top of the hill. Those are great times, enjoy them, make the most of the them. But,” She sighed. “There are going to be hard times too. Times when everything seems pitted against you, when nothing goes your way, you will be in the valley. Those are going to be hard times but you have to remember that the hill is coming you will leave those valleys behind you. But even when you are in the valley you have to look at the good things in your life, the simple things, like a sunset, because even in the deepest of valleys you will find beauty if you look for it. I want you to remember that.” 

I could only nod in agreement. I had the vaguest notion of what she meant. I had hill and valleys in my young life, although none as high or as deep as I have had in my adult life. I promised not to forget. I do remember the sunset and I remember her words.

The sun went down and the world went dark and my mother fired up the car and drove us back home. My parents made up that night or a night soon after and have been married through hills and valleys for 36 years now.

My parents have given me many things. Too many things, both material and immaterial, so many life lessons that it is impossible to quantify. But that talk and that sunset come back to me, when my life is hard, when things don’t go my way, when I don’t know if I have the strength to carry on. My mother’s words ring true in my ear and I and strive forward and find the beauty around me and the will to see the next hill, and even the next valley.

Happy Mother’s Day.

I love you Mom.

Thank you


Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 5:46 am  Comments Off on Mother’s Day Post  
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