Born in the 50's, it wasn't unusual to have a mother who didn't drive. Single-car families were the norm then, and that single car was off to work with Dad. In those days, responsibilities were clear. Dads earned the income and Moms raised the families. In the case of my Mom, she was busy raising three boys - aged 6, 3 and toddler.
Since we lived six blocks from Cedar Manor Elementary - too close to qualify for the school bus -- it was my job to walk to first grade each morning. Funny how the events of one day are forever blazed into memory while hundreds of other days are forever lost in the fog.
Like the typical first grader, I lived for the moment. Yesterday's note to Mom from Teacher was stuffed into a book and forgotten - until breakfast that morning. Back in 1963, this particular note was a request to bring a dozen hollowed-out eggs to class to make Easter egg mobiles. Each student would construct their own mobile and without the eggs, said the note, the child would not be able to participate.
Since I sprang the note on Mom five minutes before I had to leave for school, I'm sure she had a few choice words about my short notice. Odd thing is, I don't remember any of them because they were overshadowed by what happened next.
Two hours into class, just after we'd completed the Easter egg mobile project, the impossible happened - Mom appeared in my classroom doorway. Dressed in boots, winter coat and gloved hands clutching an egg carton, it was obvious she'd walked the same half-mile route I'd taken that morning. Not wanting me to miss out, Mom had made my eggs, dropped two babies at the neighbor's and hiked the half mile to school in the Minnesota winter.
The teacher excused herself and huddled with Mom by her desk. Sitting in the row closest to the two, I had a slow-motion view of what happened next.
Mom had brought a carton of hollowed out eggs. But it was too late - we'd made do without them. The teacher opened the carton. Something was wrong. Rather than poking a pin hole in the end of each egg and blowing the contents out - the hollowing-procedure no one had explained to my Mom -- she had done the best she could by breaking them open and then taping the eggshells back together.
I flushed red. Time froze. Thirty sets of eyes starred at that open carton of eggs in the teacher's hand - each wrapped heavily with scotch tape - while Mom's face painfully registered the surprise of learning how badly she'd botched the project.
Now 54, 15 years older than Mom ever became, I can't remember her leaving that classroom, but I know she did. I couldn't see her tiny silhouette walking home alone that day, but I know she did. And I can't remember her ever speaking to me about the incident, but I know she must have. What I do remember is that we lost her to cancer just eight years later and to this day, that eggshell memory is the greatest exhibition of love I have ever witnessed.
As my years of experience pile up - including raising two children of my own - I've grown to understand the depth of Mom's love through the recalling of that first grade event. What had been a tremendous embarrassment as a child, is now seen as a priceless memory that brings my mother to life. Perhaps this proves that we too quickly label uncomfortable events as "adversity." What if ALL adversity is actually proof of universal love, only not yet understood?
Isn't it curious how the advancing of years advances our understanding of events? As a six-year-old, when Mom opened that egg carton, I'd have given anything to get out of that classroom. Forty eight years later, I'd give anything to get back in.
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz