Why this memory came to mind on a cold brisk walk to Starbucks before work I don’t know. But it did. Some kind of revelation…? (smile)
It was after church and we were sitting down to Sunday dinner when I directed this question to my father: How come the woman who sang in the service had such "very big bumps" on her chest? Was–I wondered–there a problem here?
Now remember, I’m perhaps seven years old; and it’s the early 60’s. I have an older sister and a mother and therefore unconsciously know what normal is. So in my pre-juvenile mind, what I am witness to on this bright Sunday morning is something on a different scale.
The woman–everyone had been saying–had a marvelous voice and I was beginning to put it together that the reason for her marvelous voice may have been this unusual feature. I had thought this could be a follow-up question.
Sitting there at the dinner table I was also remembering her dress. It was the colour of lime-green Jell-O with silvery highlights. It seemed like it was made from crepe paper and when she walked the material made noise like tall dry grass in a wind. Of course the association with Jell-O added to the overall presentation.
Well, the question was out…but was somehow hung-up in the air.
I know now that the question would have been difficult for my parents on any given day but that day was worse. We had company.
There are few moments I remember with such clarity. The smell of roast beef and mashed potatoes, yellow sunlight coming through the glass rectangle in the varnished brown door…and quiet. I mean silence, Cistercian, monastic, silence. And my poor father, with a face full of colour.
And me, sitting on his right, a few wooden chairs down, head only slightly higher than my plate, at first the focus of everyone’s attention which felt secretly wonderful. Then, suddenly uncomfortable, very uncomfortable. With the dawning realization that I had committed a grievance, perhaps a sin, but no real way of knowing.
The silence broke off, the conversation lurched in a new direction. There would be no follow-up question. The original now stuck, caught forever like a plastic Safeway bag high in a leafless tree.