Today would be Mom's 81st Birthday. I'm celebrating with a glass of milk and washing it down with a black & white cookie.
Happy Birthday, Uncle Mommy! I never had a boring day with Mom in Yorkville.
...was all I needed to hear. I’d run from any point in the apartment and jump on. Mom’s washing machine was my rocking bronco. Old and cranky, but it still ran. Burping, coughing, and passing gas, its mechanical parts in constant resistance against one another. The machine would lift itself from its usual corner by the old sink in our tiny kitchen beginning its Ouija board dance of death across the linoleum floor. Sick of having to plug it back in when it pulled itself out of the wall socket; Mom finally gave in adding a long extension cord. This cord was my passport to ride the wide open plain from sink to wall, from wall to door across the rolling kitchen floor.
Only one rule was in play. I couldn’t wear my sneakers when driving. Early rides found me firmly planting my sneakered feet on the papered walls to maximize liftoff. This left indelible marks resistant to all Borax cleaning products. Our compromise, I wore socks. So did Mom. We each wore a pair of Dad’s thick hunting socks. Me to cleanly push off as the stage coach perilously neared the wall. I redirected my pony express out of the sage brush back onto the dirt road. Mom’s socks allowed her to slide across the floor in a fluid polishing motion till she saw her house proud smile reflecting off the burnished linoleum.
The kitchen radio played “Our Day Will Come and We’ll Have Everything” by Ruby and the Romantics, then Mom put Mario Lanza on Dad’s 1955 RCA Victrola record player. We’d sing on the top of our lungs locked in tune. The music, the bouncing machine and me, mom’s linoleum cleaning cha-cha, a chaotic orchestra playing for only us two, and Mario and we singing:
To eyes that are bright as stars when they’re shining on me.
Drink! Drink! Drink!
To lips that are red and sweet as the fruit on the tree!
Here's a hope that those bright eyes will shine
Lovingly, longingly soon into mine!
May those lips that are red and sweet,
Tonight with joy my own lips meet!
Drink! Drink! Drink! ”