Soon after our previous century began, my father was born. When he was 12, a hundred or so miles away, my mother followed him into this world. He grew, married, and had children. She did the same. My father toiled at many jobs. My mother helped her husband at a country store. For a while, my father hauled coal to various places, including that store. I can only imagine their conversations, but among those words must have been confessions of marriages that displeased them both. Later, my mother told stories of how they stole away into the night in a car they’d painted black. They left Tennessee for the North and Michigan. They left families behind and started anew.
He worked on a dairy farm in central Michigan before the two ventured to Detroit to start their families, he working in an auto-related factory and she in the home to raise new children. My sisters were 7 and 5 years older than me when I came along in the fifties, the final product of their aging clocks, “the golden child” my sisters might think, an afterthought.
When a grandfather died down south, we returned to a place we’d never been before. (Isn’t that part of a John Denver song?) I was ten, with a southern heritage and a northern brogue. I was shy, painfully shy. My sisters married on into their lives, and sometimes remarried into new lives. I muddled on, unable to make lasting friendships and unable to ask girls out for quite some time.
I went to college. My father, in his seventies, died. I learned to date, though pretty much always an amateur at it. I graduated, took a job, then another, then returned to school for a Masters. My grandmother died. My mother moved. I taught English composition for quite a while. “Lordy, Lordy, look whose 40.” I did well when I finally married. I love my wife. I moved away from teaching when the economy demanded it, but failed to find the fleeting wealth of money, though I have the lasting wealth of love. My mother died.
That was six years ago. How time flies. I seem to be wading through life just now in my fifties.