My mother came to walk alongside me as I noticed a parked school bus. Brilliant yellow, unmistakably school bus yellow. It was small…a seat row larger than the one D and I rode to school during those two years we were living on the farm.
She and I reminisced about the scent of fresh baked bread that would welcome D and I home and the school dresses she made at the beginning of the 4th grade. I think there is a first day of the fourth grade photograph in which I’m wearing one of those dresses. Smiling…hanging on a wooden aged fence.
She silently listened as I thought of school, friends, 4-H, swimming, and reading. Today, I suddenly realized that it never came into my mind to consider what life was for her living on the farm with four children in a 10-wide trailer away from family and friends. She in Colorado. They in Oregon/California. No phone…just the postal service. No radio. No television.
Silence. Silence was her life-long companion. The silence I recently have become acquainted with when a snippet of the mediation bell simply disappears.
She trusted life within that small rural community. She never said, “No” to weekends away from home…sleep overs that began on a Friday after school and ended on Sunday after church. She never questioned which church. There was that moment she did frown and say, “I don’t like that” as I described a Sunday service.
She greeted each friend that walked into the home with a smile…the authentic smile…the eye smile.
After we moved into town I roamed through a backyard that extended south to the Yampa River, north over the creek and up the hill behind our home, and to the eastern and western edges of town.
During that summer the only concerns she expressed was to be home before dark and to wait an hour after eating as I would join a group of friends on the dirt path to the Yampa river with worn, faded, and tattered bath towels draped over our shoulders. Black inner tubes of various sizes dragged behind us filling the air with the pungent scent of faded rough rubber. The sounds of splashing water and laughter would fill the air as we gathered along the river bank and swam to the sandbar.
No parents…no supervision. Freedom. My mother gifted me freedom.