Two small pieces from Mary Anne's Book that never fail to make me cry...
My dad and I were both silent as we rode home after the tea party. Finally he said, “You’re awfully quiet over there. Do you think you hurt my feelings by inviting someone else to the tea?”
“You didn’t,” he said. “I understand that you thought you should bring a woman. By the way, your teacher was very smart about something today.”
“Yes. She knows that I have to be both a mother and a father to you.”
Me with one guest too many for the Mother’s Day tea party.
“I know that, too,” I said.
“And I know that you feel sad sometimes that you don’t have a mother,” he added.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“For what?” he asked.
“That I gave my invitation to Mimi instead of you.”
“I know,” he said softly.
By then we’d pulled into the driveway. My dad suggested we sit in the backyard for awhile. “I’m never home at this time of day during the week,” he said. “I want to enjoy it.” He loosened his tie and took off his suit jacket.
I sat on my swing and he pulled the lounge chair over so he’d be near me. I knew he wanted to talk some more. “You never talk about not having a mother,” he said. I could see he was sad thinking about my mother. I tried with all my might to keep from crying. I didn’t want to make him any sadder. “But I know it must be difficult for you,” he continued.
I dug my patent leather toe in the sand. I didn’t even care that I was getting my best shoes dirty. My dad was right. It was hard not having a mother like everybody else.
“Mary Anne,” my father said, “you should have told me everything about the problem you were having with the tea party. Then I could have helped you understand that it was okay for me to be your guest. I even would have spoken to Mrs. Frederickson about it.”
“Everybody laughed when I said I was bringing my dad to a Mother’s Day tea party,” I told him.
“I bet most, of those kids don’t even know that you don’t have a mother. If they did they wouldn’t have laughed.”
I remember that Kristy had to explain it to Alan Gray. “Maybe not,” I agreed.
“I don’t think you had a very nice time at the tea party today, Mary Anne,” she said.
“I’m sorry I invited two people,” I replied. The tears I’d been holding back all afternoon began to flow.
Mimi motioned for me to come to her. She took a tissue from her apron pocket and patted my wet cheeks with them. “It was not the big problem for me that it was for you,” she said. “So don’t you worry for a minute about Mimi.” She opened her arms and wrapped me in a big Mimi hug. I leaned against her and took a deep breath of her special flower smell. Then she told me that she was still honored that I invited her to the tea party and that anytime there was a function at school that my dad couldn’t attend, she would be happy to fill in for him.
I wondered if all mothers and grandmothers had a special smell. Then I wondered what my mother’s smell would have been like, which made me wonder if my dad had a special smell.
“I have to go home now,” I told Mimi.
My father was in the kitchen. I was glad that Kristy and Claudia weren’t there yet. He’d changed into his jeans and a T-shirt and was already organizing the ingredients for his spaghetti sauce.
“Where are your pals?” he asked.
“They’re coming,” I said.
He smiled at me. “How are you doing? Do you feel better now?”
I nodded and asked, “Daddy, can I have a hug?”
My father smiled and lifted me up into his arms. I put my arms around his neck and took in a deep breath through my nose. Yes, my dad did have a special smell. I’d have known it anywhere. It wasn’t flowers, but it was spicy and fresh and it was my dad’s smell. “I love you, Daddy,” I whispered in his ear.
“I love you, too,” my dad whispered back. “More than life itself.”