Author: Alvira, Marco

The Last Dance

Every summer around June 4, Iím looking at the clock at work. As the big hand slowly swings its way to 3:35, I get real antsy. Iím a teacher and 3:35 is when school is out for the summer. Watch out kidsÖgang way, Iím busting out of the parking lot faster than a Barry Bonds fly ball finds McCovey Cove.

Iíve really been looking forward to this summer. Thereís a book on John Adams Iíve been meaning to finish and I want to read some Flannery OíConnor (I love southern writers). Thereís a fair amount of trout in some Sierra streams just waiting to jump onto my fly rod. Of course, thereís the Fatherís Day Festival and a whole lot of picking to do. Kelly Broyles and I are ramping up for the Hobbs Grove festival in September. Then thereís the bathroom to remodel that I promised my wife Iíd take care of this yearÖas opposed to last yearís broken promise. One of my favorite summer activities is hijacking bluegrass threads on the Message Board and morphing them into discussions about famous comedy duos, baseball trivia and whatever else randomly comes to mind (of course, most of you know that certain luminaries closely associated with the CBA Tower often beat me to that summertime punch!). Somewhere in the mix, my wife and I will get our fill of classic movies on TCM. I just canít quite explain the thrill I get out of stepping into the time machine we call classic cinema.

To be honest, this summer has not started well at all. Many of you know that my mother passed away the first week of June. The kids walking home from school were safe from my wild exit this one year as I spent the last week of school in San Diego with my mother. Iím not mentioning this to elicit a slew of sympathy e-mails. There is a certain irony, however, in that Rick invited me to join the ranks of the columnists based on the strength of a Message Board post I wrote a while back about my mother and bluegrass. My love for bluegrass really began with my momís Missouri Ozark roots. It is only fitting that about two days before her passing, I sat by her bed and picked a few fiddle tunes for her on the mandolin. She was slipping from consciousness to semi-consciousness and back again. The penultimate song I played for her was Floppy Eared Mule Ėvery appropriate for an Ozark gal who spent her early years in a small cabin lit only by kerosene lamps. Somewhere during the second time through the B part, I noticed her hands slightly waving in the air. She seemed a little agitated and I thought that I might be killing her with the quick tempoed song (my mando picking can do that!). I was about to stop playing when my sister noticed that my momís feet were wagging in beat to the music under the sheet. Son of a gun if she wasnít dancing! That was my last dance with my motherÖand one of my last memories of her. It reminded me that somewhere in the tired, sick old body beat the heart of a young woman who really enjoyed life.

My aunt recently told me that now is the time to remember only the goods things about my mom. I had to pause and think a moment. I replied that I didnít have one single negative memory of my mother. She wasnít born sinless, but she was, in fact, the perfect mother: nurturing, tough when she needed, wise, and always putting her family before herself. Thinking about it further, she was that way with everybody. In our poor manís neighborhood, there was always a collection of hardscrabble folks seated at our kitchen table drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and telling their stories. All these friends seemed, oddly enough, like family-- because thatís the way my mom made them feel. I am proud to be the son of Elizabeth Ellen Alvira Green.

Posted:  6/8/2010

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