(This is my contribution for the Red Dress Writing Club challenge: I could have any departed person come and visit with me today.)
Right after lunch, at the front of a small one-room school that offered grades one to nine, the teacher stood reading from Treasure Island.
She acted out each character on every page of that endless tome.
My mother was the teacher.
Being the only student in Grade Two, there was no solace to be had from a fellow classmate. I looked around the classroom. My brother, three years my senior, lounged sideways in his desk, looking embarrassed enough to bolt. My sister, six years older, doodled on a scribbler, head determinedly down.
With all the drama of a frustrated thespian, our mother sang out,
“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest,
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum.”
Students snickered. They shared knowing glances. I was six years old and catapulted into a world of dual attitudes. How could I have such awe for this woman who was my home hero, but who was capable of persisting with antics that put her family at risk of being the laughing stock of the countryside?
Being so diverted by dread, I was challenged to catch and maintain any thread of the story. I could only see the unfamiliar hand movements, the blocking attempts to introduce a different character, and the strangeness of voice pitched at us with passion. All the richness of Robert Louis Stevenson’s choreographed words was lost to the indignity of my mother’s antics over good literature.
Regardless of protests from her offspring, mother continued her acting career every day after lunch throughout the school term. Our digestive processes were disrupted by her interpretive performances of some of the best: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, The Three Musketeers, etc.
Just when we thought there would be a reprieve, she’d have the distant library send the punishment of poetry. Kipling’s “Kim” went on endlessly in a completely unfamiliar world. Fortunately mother had no access to an Indian sari or that would have been donned, incorrectly or otherwise. I sat wishing Coleridge could have given “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” a silent burial at sea. Thankfully, having no high school grades, we were spared the death of Cleopatra and the determined “Out, damned spot” of Lady MacBeth.
Oh, what damage this delightful mother did to this absorbent sponge who loves good literature.
Think of the harm that was done by giving me a ears to hear cadence and nuance, rhythm and rhyme, timing and tone.
Imagine the power that has been passed on to present only the important in a preciousness of words.
Through all the possibility of harm or damage, one fact is borne. I would gladly and humbly present an invitation to my educator, my mother, that she come to me in dream and read, any piece of her choice from the Library of Beyond.
I promise, Mom, there is no way in…whatever state you exist…that you could ever embarrass me now. Thank you for your endless love of fine literature.
My dearest Guides, is it possible to have you extend this invitation to my mother?
May we remind you that, as you have thought, so it is?
Many thanks. And will you let her know that I am still saving great lines, sentences, paragraphs to share with her?
As we have said, it is done.
Okay, but how do I think about this and make sure she has it: I just posted her favourite picture of herself on this article.
We have no need to be repetitious. You were given the greatest capacities needed for any type of transmission or communication. Rest assured that any love that is thought, spoken, felt or gestured has been given to the source, the involved and the loved.
I know that the Ra Group, with it’s wise and mature Christology does not dabble in trifles. However, is it possible for me to know how my mother’s soul has received this remembrance?
She’s wearing a blue and green sari and has a parrot that repeats, “Pieces of Eight! Pieces of Eight!” while she’s shouting, “Tom and Huck, have you finished whitewashing that fence yet?”
Okay, the humour is flowing. No one is going to believe this! Your credibility just dropped.
We know that’s not a line for this era’s contribution to fine literature.
You are giving me a Grade Two experience, my Beloveds! Thank you so much.