Golf - Mom's Salvation
OUR SUBDIVISION EMERGED FROM FADING orchards and farms of greater-Detroit; the land was being transformed into bustling neighborhoods driven by the good fortunes of post-war prosperity. In June 1955, golf, kids, and pets, benchmarks of my mom’s life, all merged at our home creating an event I shall not easily forget.
Recall from my memoirs, my mother insisted on filling her home with many children and numerous pets. The demands from this calling was kept in balance by her choosing to play the game of golf. You could see it in her eyes, a spark of joy ignited by her pending liberation as she prepared to head from our home to the golf course. She loved the game and it brought relaxation to her busy life.
It was nearing 8:45 AM and several neighborhood children had already begun playing on our back driveway. Mom had a 9:21 AM tee time at the country club. She appeared at the kitchen door clapping her hands announcing the familiar,“Chop, Chop.” This routine caused us to move to higher ground collecting on the cement step near the garage huddled around Gladys our multi-talented maid from Detroit. It was Gladys’ charge to keep us out of harm’s way allowing Mom a bold exit out of the garage. Mom's robin-egg blue Ford Country Squire was a huge vehicle made of metal, glass, chrome and rubber. It somehow symbolized her, if only by contrast.
On this summer morning unnoticed by all my new kitten jumped up on top of the car’s rear tire believing it had escaped our playful hands. Hiding in the wheel well would soon prove be a very costly move for the kitten. The car quickly revved-up, the rear lights flashed, and the vehicle began moving. It took about two seconds in reverse and all of three feet for the tire to rotate just enough.
Gladys cried out, “Oh, Lordy, Lordy, Mrs. Adams.”
The car bounced up and down in an awful spasm responding to Mom’s braking action. The engine ceased running and for a moment silence draped the entire garage. Deep breaths were captured by all, except the cat. Gladys first gathered me then she shuffled over collecting the other children covering our eyes with her hands, forearms, and white apron shielding us from the spectacle at our feet. I was still trying to grasp what had happened? Mom jumped out of the front seat of the car and joined us, first muttering to herself, then quite clearly announcing, “Well, Shit!”
It was her favorite expletive in situations like this and only Mom was permitted to use it.
Mom shared glances with Gladys and quickly handed her a shovel taken from the garage’s pegboard rack. I noticed that the cat’s eyeballs were lying on the cement connected by a slimy cord of sinew, or something? I can still hear the shovel as my lifeless kitten was scraped from the garage floor. Mom’s fingers cupped her lips as Gladys slid the kitten carefully off the shovel’s blade into a small cardboard shoebox. Gladys closed the lid with her gentle hands. It became the perfect coffin. All of us had now begun to grasp the kitten’s fate.
Mom again entered her car, restarted the engine, backed up, and began heading down the driveway. Her left hand extended out the car window waving a white tissue finishing with a “thumbs-up” sign. The car sped away, disappearing around the shrubs that framed the end of our driveway. Her starting time was not to be missed.
We had one of the nicest funerals next door in the open lot under the shade of a large maple tree. Gladys led both the procession and the ceremony. We followed her in a single row. She even dug the hole. The Lord was in her life and he was well represented that morning with Gladys’ words of praise for his infinite wisdom. I know exactly where my kitten’s remains lie some sixty years later.
The following week Gladys made her way to the suburbs. She hid the replacement kitten birthed from the same litter in her large purse next to her work shoes avoiding detection by the bus driver. She presented the kitten to me. It brought a huge smile to my face.