Monday, May 2, 2011

red shirts, red faces, and overdue love

On Tuesdays in the fourth grade I would wear my Scotty shirt. This T-shirt had a Star Trek engineering insignia and was bright red. It started one Tuesday when I was walking along through Malu Ulu Olele Park during morning recess. I heard a car horn and looked to see my mom waving as she drove my in our orange 1976 Subaru wagon. I smiled and waved back. In the cold cruel world of the fourth grade I felt warmth. I saw my mom. In my home full of love, I loved her most.

That afternoon if I had been doing homework she would have found some hand-sewing to do in my room while I struggled with math. She told me that she spotted my red shirt as she drove by to her Tuesday women’s meeting. It was a weekly meeting so from then on every Tuesday I wore that shirt. Every Tuesday I looked forward to morning recess. I stood at a fence by Front Street and watched for my mom to drive by. She would beep the horn and we would both wave. It could be the highlight of my school day.

Two years later I sat in the sixth grade classroom. It was morning and some kind of teaching or lecture may have been happening. Out the window I saw my mom. My heart pounded once. She was headed into the school grounds. Moments later she was at the classroom door. The class fell silent. My mom looked to me and held up a quarter, the price of a school lunch. I felt the quarter in my pocket and told her I had my lunch money. She said “Oh, okay,” and left. I looked down at my desk and wanted to disappear.

I don’t remember how or even if I communicated my feelings to my mom that day. Looking at the little incident now I can understand how that might embarrass a sixth grader. But as I thought about this the other day and tried to form it into a blog post I realized something else. At first I thought that my mom considered me going without lunch worse than a little embarrassment. She may have mulled it over and the idea of her son skipping lunch was a worst case scenario. But I recently thought of something else. She thought her son had forgotten his lunch money. This was the same little boy who asked her to sing to him at bedtime years back. The same boy she had a smile for regardless of how she felt. He was same little boy who wore a red shirt that she ironed a Star Trek logo onto and waved at her every Tuesday. He needed his lunch money and that was all. There was no problem taking him a quarter.

An eleven year old shouldn’t be embarrassed at the sight of his mom stepping into the classroom. But at that terribly awkward age it just sometimes is that way. Now this Mother’s Day it doesn’t matter that this happened 33 years ago and she may have forgotten. I want to thank my mom for bringing me that quarter and give her a hug.

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