May Your Heart Always Remember “The Ghost” and “The Spirit”
I know my mom was a little sad today. It would have been their 69th anniversary today. My dad would, until a few years ago, get her a card and roses. In the past he would have them sent, but in later years he would pick a bouquet himself and bring them home to surprise her. They would toast with champagne and talk about the fateful meeting in downtown San Antonio, after church on an Easter Sunday, 1953 when she and a couple of Air Force servicemen were waiting for a bus to take them to the the fabled Playland Park. Then my dad walked up and life changed forever for them.
He was in civilian clothes, so classically dressed, Mom told us one time she thought he was European! After one bus filled to capacity passed them by, my dad suggested that they walk back a couple of blocks to a bus stop to see if they had better luck. They did and by the time they all got off at Playland Park, Dad had a date to come meet my Tia and her husband where my mom was living at the time, before they could out on their first date.
My Dad was a romantic. I don’t recall his words exactly, but when we lived overseas at Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines, I got into Mom’s hope chest (you all remember hope chests?) and found ribbon bound letters my Dad had written to Mom when he was on WestPac cruises. Curious, I remember unfolding the well worn pages, some of the sentences redacted, which at the time, I didn’t know why, but later understood because of where my father’s carrier had been deployed off the coast of Vietnam, certain information could not be shared. But, it was the terms of endearment that I, all of twelve or thirteen, who knew nothing of romance except what I read in teen magazines, was surprised with their tenderness.
After I married and left home, Dad continued to run our family business, initially a janitorial/landscape service that later evolved into a construction site cleanup for military housing contracts. In those day, depending on his employees, there were some nights Dad had to deal with a complaint or fill in for a no-show. Those of you who have had businesses of your own know this scenario. Once, in our weekly phone call, Mom told me that Dad in the mornings when he would start his day, would leave her a note by the coffee pot with her favorite cup sitting atop it, and sign it “the Ghost”…she would do the same at night when he worked late or into the early morning hours letting him know where his dinner could be found and sign it “the Spirit.”
So today, say a prayer of peace for my beautiful, strong Mom, that her memories will warm her heart of the times they went to Las Vegas or Palm Springs to celebrate the anniversary of their life together. The times they celebrated at the El Cortez or Mr. A’s or Top of the Hyatt or in the comfort of their family room, listening to Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett or corridas Tejano. Say a prayer for my Mom that her memories are more sweet than sad, that her heart is full with all the love she shared with that smart, suave young man she met on the streets of San Antonio.