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An Ordinary Mother's Day

May 13, 2005

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I have to admit I was a bit preoccupied with what a Corn Palace might look like. I kept thinking of the Winter Palace from Dr. Zhivago all covered in corn and Omar Sharif in overalls on a John Deere so I went to the Prairie Home website and found a link and there it was. What I admire in people is the ability to follow through with an idea and whoever was thinking, "Hmm...a corn palace" sure pulled it off. I can't say I've ever built anything in my life, really, except a bird feeder in third grade for my mother on Mother's Day.

Speaking of which. I'm content to have an ordinary Mother's Day, and that's what I shoot for, but some small thing inevitably makes its mark in my head. I spent the morning in Bible study where we talked about suffering and whether suffering is ever good. The consensus was yes, it can be, if you have a degree of optimism in you. My mother is like that. She can find hope in an outdated can of peas. I remember the time we went on a family vacation up along the North Shore. A storm came along and blew the canoe off our car. We pulled over under an overpass and my father got out to find the canoe. While he was gone, Mom started singing "Oklahoma" over and over again until we were all laughing at the way she held on to the "O" longer every time. Dad finally came back with the canoe and secured it to the car. By then we were all singing. We found out that evening a tornado had passed just south of where we had parked.

Anyway, during Bible study I got to missing my mother so when we got home from church I picked up the phone to call her. The little screen on the phone read, "Two Messages." I figured she'd called, so I cut up some green apples and cheese for Mr. Sundberg and the kids to tide them over before we headed out to the Chinese buffet. I went upstairs to listen to the messages while I put away towels in the bathroom. The first was left at 8:45, just as we were leaving the house. It was James, calling from London, Ontario. "Ahh...Mrs...Mrs. Sundberg. This is James. I wrote to you a few weeks back and since it's Mother's Day I thought this might be a good day to call. I'd like to meet sometime soon. We can talk about this but I'd like to fly you up here. You could stay with me, or there's a hotel down the street...Anyway. I hope you have a great Mother's Day and let's talk soon. Okay? Okay. Okay." Click.

He says "Anyway." He doesn't have the deep voice I imagined. He sounds happy. He likes to have the windows open (I could hear traffic). I listened to the message at least seven times. Then I listened to the second message.

It was my mother. "Happy Mother's Day!" she kind of hollered into the phone. And then she launched into "Oklahoma." She held the "O" for quite a long time and went on to sing the entire song. The whole thing lasted over three minutes. When she finished, there was a giggle and a click. She sounded proud of herself, and rather unconcerned about feedback.

Mr. Sundberg called from the kitchen to get moving because everybody was hungry. I listened to James one more time. You'd think I'd cry but I didn't. I just felt very glad to hear his voice. I didn't listen to my mother's message again. Not that I didn't appreciate it. Just that I already had the song in my head where it would stay for the next three days so why listen again and make it six days? I'll save it for a rainy day when it's humid and my hair is all curled up and there's not much to do but read or bake if it weren't so dang warm in the kitchen.

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