She died a while ago, but I recalled a wonderful memory standing at my mother’s graveside.
Even after a decade in the California desert, my mom was the whitest woman on earth. “Oh, I think I got too much sun today.” She would declare examining her lily white shoulders. In the 1950’s moms did not go for runs or power walks or mow the lawn, they stayed inside and….did something else. The whitest part of the whitest woman on earth was the undersides of her arms. Because she stayed inside during the heat of the summer those soft arms were always nice and cool as well.
I was always a chunky, sweaty little kid. If you examine the majority of the photos taken of me from age three to twelve you will find remnants of multiple dirt necklaces around my chubby neck. I would play outside until I dropped from exhaustion or someone made me food. My mother knew this so, to save my life, every few hours she would open the door a crack and yell into Indio’s 110 degree heat, “Jimmy, come get some lemonade!”
I wish I could say that I ran inside and gave my mom a big hug because I loved her, but that is not entirely true. I did love her, deeply, but my motives were purely selfish. I wanted to stick my hot, sweaty, dirty little four year old face into the cool, soft, clean, fresh undersides of her white arms. She never stopped me. She never wiped my face first. She never hugged me half way or any other way but tightly and as long as I wanted. She would wiggle me back and forth and say, “Mmmm, you’re so nice and warm.” As if I was giving her a gift. I was helping her keep warm in the heat of the California summer. That is a mother’s love.