We had solemnly agreed we weren’t going to cry that day. Mama and I promised each other this. We even shook on it.
I was not yet a man, but I would be married within 48 hours, so I was close to being one. It was my final day at home. I had packed the last of my belongings in cardboard boxes and was moving into a rat-trap apartment where my future wife and I would live after the honeymoon.
My old bedroom looked vacant. The walls were bare. And this was feeling weird.
No more poster of John Wayne hanging over my bed. No more desk with my manual typewriter. No more piles of dirty clothes awaiting the laundry fairy.
It must have been odd for my mother, too. Her hardest years of single-motherhood were over. No more overflowing dirty dishes. No more annoying sounds of her son practicing guitar during the wee hours. No more stocking a refrigerator that always teetered on emptiness because of a certain young man who
ate everything that wasn’t nailed to the floor.
My leaving also meant there would be no more moments of minor disappointment caused by a wayward son. No longer would I come home late on an occasional Saturday night with my head down and beer on my breath. No longer would she stand in the hallway, showing disapproval. No more mending my slacks before Sunday morning services, then shoving me out the door to repent for last Saturday night.
No more suppers at her table.
I loaded the last box into my truck and it all felt so final. We stood in the driveway staring at each other. We were two adults now.
“It’s only a ten-minute drive,” I said. “Our apartment isn’t far.”
She smiled. Brave face. This woman who had survived her troubled husband’s reckless death. This woman who held a Bachelor of Science, but also cleaned…