Weekend essay: Mom & Dad
Mom and Dad lie side by side on a sloping hill overlooking a beautiful valley in rural Southeastern Ohio. It’s just a long country walk from the Frank Lloyd Wright-ish Shangri La of a house they built on Sharon Road in early 1950s Colerain.
Mom, far too young, was laid to rest on a Monday morning in the middle of October 1972 in Farmington Cemetery. The crisper air of fall was just starting to settle in.
Dad joined her nearly 30 years later, buried on a Saturday following his May 14, 2002, passing and monsoon-like rains the day before. Four grown men who as boys had helped carry their mother to a grave lined with clay and sandstone had to let the cemetery workers take over this time; the short trek down the hill was far too slippery to attempt in dress shoes.
After such a long separation, Mom and Dad surely had much catching up to do – discussing what they had just read in the Sunday papers, perhaps, and watching the afternoon sun fade to twilight, dusk, then the star-illuminated night, as they recounted the day’s events, unwinding in folding lawn chairs underneath a large maple tree.
As oftentimes is the case, little boys now grown pause to reflect fondly on their late moms as another Mother’s Day arrives. We tear up a bit finding stashed in an attic box some silly gift that they thought was the best Mother’s Day gift ever received — and proved it by saving it for us to find many years hence.
And with yet another anniversary of their father’s passing coming just a day later, grown boys tend to pause to push any faults that might have powered prior grievances to the periphery. It’s in gratitude for all the lessons we were taught and, yes, in some cases, even mustered enough maturity to learn.
Indeed, Mom and Dad are at peace in this beautiful country cemetery. And just as surely is their solace enhanced by the sounds of the farms of the Mehlmans, Theakers and Yoders that were worked for multiple scores and, in many cases, are worked still by their children.
Far from disturbing them, those sounds are as soothing as was and is the horn blast of a freight train rumbling though nearby Barton. Yes, and despite the rumors, there is much life in eternal repose.
Fable has it that in the late 1940s, Mom and Dad used to “perimeter dance” to Big Band music around the Pine Room of nearby Oglebay Park.
And as dusk turns to dark and the stars emerge in Farmington Cemetery, a boy now a man and a bit melancholy in his remembrances imagines the familiar opening refrains of Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” and a smartly dressed Mom and Dad sweeping around the perimeter of the cemetery without a care in the world.
Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (firstname.lastname@example.org)