Yesterday's Magazette

10 – Father and Mother “C”


Father and Mother “C”

By William D. Canavan


Growing up I was a good child—okay, who laughed? In fact, I think I was nominated for “The Child of Grand Behavior Award.” In actuality, when I was born, President Dwight D. Eisenhower turned pale, and he was one tough guy.  

I write a lot about my family and friends because those are the things that I want to carry with me on my journey through old age. I’m certainly not there, not yet, maybe in another 50 or 60 years, but I’m beginning to believe it’s inevitable.


I might have shocked President Eisenhower, but Father and Mother “C” were ready for me, clad in battle armor that shaped all four children. They worked in a wide spectrum of love, from patience and understanding to that strange majestic thunder of, “because I said so,” which I still swear made the earth quake and the sky grow dark.

I worked for Father “C”, changed truck and tractor tires, and if that didn’t let me know at a young age that life was a whole lot of work, nothing else would have. For those of you who have ever worked for a parent, you know what I call “the mumbled response” when my father called out: “Hey, Bill, I’ve got another job for you.”

Aww, Gumpf –gumarla- learna- burna; grrrrr.”

Although my hair was longer than he wanted it to be, (he’d be happy now) and he was so ridiculously cheerful at 6:00 in the morning when he shook me out of my dreams, we always managed to find common ground. We had fun together, but what really counted was that he was there. He loved to work with wood, to putz-around in his shop, and he taught me the importance of laughter and accepting the trials that came with life. I remember when I slid into a telephone pole with the family car. He looked at me, and all he said was, “Well, you can’t expect me to be happy, can you?”

I cried later on that night, because that response showed me the inner-dad, the heart that he carried around and passed out to people. He did that often—said things that later made me cry. I never told him that; wish I had.

I cried in 2003, when cancer got him and it took that heart away, but I try to keep the idea going, hopefully I do.

Mother “C” was a stay-at-home mom and she worked hard. She shopped and cooked and cleaned and canned and blanched and threw what was blanched in the freezer. I tried to eat it as fast as I could, you know, to help her out, but I’ll be damned if she didn’t win that battle, too. I ate so much, that she used to tease me about having a hollow leg where I was storing it. I think I proved to her many times that the only thing hollow at that time was my head. She also threw one of my favorite shirts away, because I kept throwing it on the floor. I wasn’t real happy about that at the time, but now I can see where she was coming from.

In the midst of that entire blur, she was the one who inspired me to write. When I read a parody of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (better known as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, questionably written by Clement Clarke Moore), that was published in the local paper, I said, “Wow, that’s for me!” She also sold several poems, and a short story or two. I remember thinking how much of a gift it must be, to create something that existed only in your mind and heart, and eventually be able to share it with others and possibly make a difference in their lives.

She was self-taught in a lot of creative things. When the nest was finally empty, she oil painted, well, I might add, then jumped to photography and won several awards. Like my dad, though, she was there. Her things came last, the kids came first.

I remember thinking one school morning: It’s too nice to go to school. When I claimed I was sick, and my brother jumped on the wagon, my mom saw right through it—but with that perspective thing only mothers have, she said,  “You do look sick, you guys better stay home today.” Both my brother and I were so sick we started bouncing on the beds and cheering,

Mother “C” taught me what creativeness was, which in turn, showed me how important it is to see and consider other’s viewpoints and perspectives. She was the other half of that inner-lining that made my world whole and understandable.  She taught me how to be persistent in what you strive for and be grateful for what you have, regardless of how little that is.

I had a front row seat when I watched her prove those words. She started to lose her sight just before my dad died; now she’s legally blind. She struggles day to day with rheumatoid arthritis. I can tell it in her voice when we talk, but she won’t tell me she hurts unless I ask. Am I crying a little now? Yes, because with those things and a whole lot more on life’s platter, she can still be cheerful.  I try to call her almost every day, because that’s what you’re supposed to do to moms you love; and we laugh.

So, as I write this I’m realizing that life goes faster than we can comprehend.  One minute we’re sitting on the grass under a tree, and the next minute we’re wondering where life went. Deep inside we might get a little wiser, outside a lot older, but we don’t see ourselves as being that much different. I think it’s the soul in us; that breath of light that connects all of us to each other, because we all have memories to laugh and to cry about.

William Canavan is a part-time freelance writer and author, published throughout the U.S. and twice in Canada, which includes magazine circulations in Australia, Korea, Japan, and throughout the UK. He has written greeting card copy for several card manufacturers. He also received a “1st Choice Award”  from Yesterday’s Magazette in 1987.

Vol. 38 No. 1 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Spring- 2011


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