Some riches are self-made. Others are bestowed in the form of Melmac memories more valuable than fine China.
The sun was shining on the little house on 5th Street. Even though cartoons were playing on the television inside the house, the playground de jour was the front yard. The 60/40 mix of grass and weeds was encroaching onto the uneven rectangular sections of sidewalk cutting through the yard.
Cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, kicking a ball around, riding a tricycle along the sidewalk expressway … I do not remember what we were playing.
The imagination of a child is far more powerful than midlife memory.
Mom burst out the front door, interrupting our creative thoughts with reality. A parent’s abrupt entry into the world of play is cause for concern, but her steps were not heavy, not weighed down by discipline or hastened by the threat of danger. Eased by her airy gait and eyes brimming with excited surprise, we knew the breaking news was going to be of a positive nature.
“Tammy, Tammy! You won a set of dishes!”, she exclaimed with an exuberance met with the emotionless expression of two unimpressed little faces.
My name had been announced on local television as the winner of a set of Mickey Mouse dishes. A few weeks later and my good fortune arrived in the form of Walt Disney Mickey Mouse Club Melmac plates, bowls, and cups.
Minnie Mouse waved to me from atop the smiling Dumbo each time my tiny hand raised the cup to my lips. Cinnamon toast often covered Mickey Mouse and his balloon carrying parade of friends on the child-sized plate. Donald Duck marched toward me at the completion of a bowl of cereal or a pudding snack.
Treasure made of Melmac, brought to me by my guardian angel guiding a stranger’s hand to select my entry ticket. Good fortune arrived when I was not looking.
For years we laughed about Mom being the one watching the children’s television show instead of us kids. She was so much more excited about the win than I was. Looking back, it would have been fun to hear my name spoken by a local celebrity, a childish version of fame.
Fast forward fifty years and I get it. Mom needed a break from her reality, too. A little good fortune to shift the mindset, a token of fun to share with loved ones.
Mid-life comprehension is more powerful than a child’s understanding of the importance of the little victories.
Suspended in the darkness of difficulties, good fortune can retreat from sight. Not lost, only hidden where eyes are not looking. My guardian angel hides in the shadows of my life, waiting to lend an invisible hand or to wear the flesh of humanity’s saviors.
Mom has been my guardian angel’s best field agent for over half a century. Even at the age of 80, she is there, sharing in my little victories and providing shelter against harmful intrusion when a compassionless fog seeps into my surroundings.
Her gait is slower and unsteady these days, her protective arms are weaker. Wrinkles frame her smile like ribbons of honor. But she is there … still and always. When her eyes fall upon the woman in front of her, I wonder if she still sees the little redheaded girl playing in the front yard … the winner of an invaluable prize.