The Women In My Life

It was late Friday afternoon. My wife and I were checking our calendars for the upcoming week. I had a Wednesday luncheon scheduled in downtown Salt Lake City.

“Who’s it with?” she asked.

“The name’s not familiar,” I said.

“Why’d you schedule it?” she asked again.

Thinking hard, I said, “I’m networking.”

“Roger,” she responded laughing, “You’re seventy three years old.”

And so it’s been my entire life.

When I was four years old, I would get into my scrawny little fire engine, and put my lunch sack containing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I had made in the engine’s bed.

“Where you going?” my mother asked.

“I’m going to meet people,” I said

Hiding a laugh, she asked, “Do you know these people?”

“No,” I would say earnestly, “that’s why I’m meeting them.”

My mother was never a great big laughing kind of person. But, there were times she had a good one. As I reflect back, this was one of those times. And, the same goes for my wife. The women in my life had some good laughs when I was around.

I haven’t yet decided whether or not my mother was a wild party type or not. She certainly had a season of partying, but that leveled off when I was around ten years old.

I felt very close to my mother, and on important decisions like choosing a wife, without realizing it, I sought her approval. For one who was so dedicated to his independence, I was deeply attached to my mother.

I think by the time she handed me off to my wife, she was ready to be rid of me. She never criticized me, and to the best of my memory, I can’t recall her ever hitting or spanking me. She was very tolerant.

But . . . she could let loose with a tidal wave of expletives when she had run out of patience with me. One of her favorite titles for me was, “last word Roger.”

Cheri and my mom had certain things in common. Both were and are excellent money managers. The most concern my mother ever voiced was, “We’re going to have to tighten our belts for a couple of months.” So far, I’ve never heard a word of concern from Cheri. But, she has moments of silence when she is doing our taxes – deep silence.

I do believe that by nature my mother was very humble, even though she lived a nice life of driving late model Cadillacs. Cheri, by contrast, is soft spoken and very thoughtful. She ALWAYS resists when I purchase or lease a Mercedes. Once inside, she enjoys driving them, so much so, she now does the driving for both of us.

I spent the first nineteen years being raised in my parents’ home. My mother nursed me through polio, and suffered in silence as I struggled to overcome academic and athletic barriers.

I’ve been married fifty two years. We’ve gone through raising five children, who have sixteen children between them. We’ve witnessed birth and death, war and peace, economic high and lows together.

When my mother was dying of cancer, Cheri and I were in our first year of marriage. I had just received my first professional contract to teach religion at the high school level in Magna, Utah. Cheri and I decided to cancel the contract, and stay with my mother in Southern California.

My mother blew up. She said, “I’ll die right here on the spot if you don’t go.”

She was blunt, very clear, and forceful. My father said, “you’d better do what she says, she might do it.”

So, Cheri and I packed the car and were off to our new life together. The hand off was completed.

My dear mother died two months later. That was fifty years ago.