Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Childhood Sounds

(Dad in his wheelchair)

As a child, one of my favorite things to do was lie in bed and listen to the grown-ups talking in the kitchen.  Sometimes it was late at night, and they were sitting around the kitchen table, discussing the things they didn't want the kids to hear (that's how I found out one of my aunts was expecting her third child).  Other times, it was a late night game of hearts, being re-hashed as to how a hand should have been played.  My favorite time, though, was Saturday morning, when my dad didn't have to go to work, and I could listen to him wheeling around the kitchen; he would sing and whistle, and his wheelchair tires would squeak on the linoleum floor.  Someone, probably my mom, made it a rule that I couldn't get out of bed before 7:00 AM on Saturday, so I would snug down under the covers and just listen.

Weekdays, mom usually made the pot of coffee the night before.  In the morning, she would set it over the flame to re-heat, and I could hear the tap-tap-tap of her wedding ring against the Corning Ware pot, as she tested to see if it was warm enough yet.  Mom hated early mornings, but got up every day to pack dad's lunch, and fix his breakfast - one fried egg, two pieces of bacon, a piece of toast with marmalade (which he dunked into his egg yolk, a taste I never acquired).  As soon as he left, she went back to bed.  To this day, the thought of the tap-tap-tap of a wedding ring against the coffee pot is incredibly comforting.  Those sounds signaled that the routine was in place, and all was right with the world.

Next week, my dad will have been gone 34 years.  It's been longer than that since I've heard the wheels squeak on the floor, the whistling, the songs.  Longer still since I've trailed into the kitchen on a Saturday morning to see his bright blue eyes welcome me, and then have him whisper "it's almost 9:00 o'clock, go in and tell your mom it's time to get up."  I wonder if he knew I could tell time, and knew that 8:15 was not "almost 9:00 o'clock."  He just wanted her to get up to share the morning with him...