I think about the times when I’ve been on the phone with my mom, and we’d be having a nice reminiscence about my dad. Then all kinds of stories and references would start to pop up that just don’t fit. Come to find out, she’d actually been talking about her first husband, not my dad.
It’s like a supple-wristed Pinball Wizard launching that cognitive silver ball through the chute, sending out the ball to bounce off each rubberized pin, picking up a different piece of memory with each “bing-bing” as it travels over the 86-year-old synaptic landscape. Bing-bing! We’re in the 1940s. Bing! Back to the 1990s. Bing! Bounce back to the 60s. From hundreds of miles away, I’d do my best to knock that bastard Wizard out of the way, and I’d step up to punch those flippers, trying to jog a memory … going for a bonus game—for extra time with the mom I used to know.
We got out of the car and strolled to the house, my palms were sweating, The Who playing on the mental soundtrack. Probably should have been the fiery “Ride of the Valkyries” or the sappy “Bridge over Troubled Water.” But I guess “that deaf, dumb, and blind kid” will do. I fell behind to let my charmers go ahead. I was scared as shit. The door opened, my sister and mom were standing there.
Mom hugged my daughter first, and then my wife. Did she call them by name? Like at the beginning of a play, the room hushed. An oval spotlight panned until it just covered the two of us.
“Do you remember me, Mom?”
“Of course I do, David,” she replied, her arms reaching for me. “How could I forget you?”
“Always has a replay,” the singer shouted in my ear. I hugged her tight. My universe felt righted … for now. I know tomorrow everything could—and will—change. But for the moment, it’s all good.