Monday, January 24, 2011


What do you do with a 30-year old macaroni necklace?

Going through boxes this weekend, I found a Father's Day card I made in 1959. I'm sure it spent time taped to the refrigerator and then later, tucked into an old shoebox. As children, most every accomplishment is an attempt to gain praise from our parents and loved ones. My father left when I was 7, but the need to please him did not.

Mom worked long hours to provide for us and so wasn't available for parent-teacher conferences, to watch me compete in sports, or to attend the school plays. She did make it to my 5th grade piano recital and walked to the community pool one hot afternoon to watch me practice sprints. And she kept macaroni necklaces.

Mom loved my adventures. The retirement complex where she lived in California had a central meeting room where the residents would play cards and "one-up": verbal banter with the winner being the person who's child or grandchild was the most accomplished. Mom would call before the weekly card game and giggle "Give me a story Donna. Wha'd you do this week??"

When my father died in 2005, I sat by his bed and whispered things I remembered from my childhood: watching him untangle Christmas tree lights on the livingroom floor; climbing up in his lap to watch Bugs Bunny before going to bed. Then I clipped a lock of his hair and taped it in the back of my passport and told him about the grand adventures we would have.

My brother Don and I found an old briefcase tucked in the bottom of a storage closet on his patio. The fittings were covered in mold from years of exposure. Inside were treasures from my childhood: a Scrabble board, his address book and business cards from the early 1970s, photographs of my mother, my brothers and me, and pictures of my children. Tucked in the back of the address book was a yellowed envelope in my handwriting. Inside was my college graduation announcement.

He was with me when I worked for Chase in Hong Kong and climbed the steep steps to the Big Buddah. He was with me when Woody and I sailed across the South Atlantic in a 34' CAL.

In 2009 when mom died, I taped both of their locks in the back of my logbook. It was the first time they'd been together since 1961. They were with me when I passed my Lear 60 SIC checkride. Last month, they were with me when I flew a light-sport aircraft from NW Arkansas across the Texas plains; through the I40 pass in Albuquerque, New Mexico; across the great meteor crater; through Sedona's canyons to Lake Havasu, Arizona. This morning, my logbook sits on the corner of my desk under my David Clarks. And I can hear my mother's voice whisper "Give me a story Donna..."


  1. That was beautiful! As the T-shirt Elyssa used to wear back in high school said, "There is a way with words". Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love this, and I love you!

  3. Beautiful and eloquent, Donna May!