Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mom's Little Princess

My father and I were in the 99 restaurant on Memorial day last year, eating our traditional cholesterol laden fair, on a rainy Sunday afternoon. My father was fresh from his attendance of memorial services, with his Army dress greens.

The background was a discordant drone of Fox News, NECN and patron babble mixed with the occasional clash and scrape of silverware on crockery, and the shimmering whine of artificial fabric swiping together, from raincoats and windbreakers, being zipped and stripped.

Partway through our duplicate steaming portions of French onion soup, a young family squeezed past the bar crowd, to settle in an empty booth two spots away, on the opposite aisle. They had just attended a church service, or a holiday school play. Mom was juggling two restless boys and her youngest, a little girl, was dressed in a little pink outfit, replete with wand and a chrome plastic jewel encrusted tiara.

Mom looked pretty darn tired. Her eyes had a slight puffiness, and she was nodding off. It had been a rough morning and perhaps a rough evening of preparation. Dad was in full 99 zombie mode, glassy eyes fixed on a plasma tube. As mom was preoccupied with settling the boys, the little girl stumbled in pirouette fashion, rolling along the boundary of coats and stranger's legs. All the older women and mothers smiled and prodded her in her clumsy progression.

She stopped at my fathers green Army blazer. She immediately focused on the cluster of the CIB and thin ribbons, fixed to his coat.

Dad was nose deep in his soup. I nudged him with my foot and directed him, by a head nod, to his new fan. My father loves kids. He has entire conversations with them, with his own silent sign language of facial expression. I watched with captive amusement, as he negotiated a connection with her, using a special combination of smirks, denture juggling, eyebrow raises and head scratches. She was as amused as I was. During the facial acrobatics, she was fingering a loose tooth, with eyes fixed, on my snake charming father.

“Is that candy!?”, She abruptly piped, fixing her gaze on his ribbons.

“No, I'm afraid not.” Both eyebrows raised, with a crestfallen head shake.

“Oh.” She did not seem too upset. She had already indulged, since there was a spot of candy apple red on her face.

I looked over at her Mom. She was watching the scene, with a smile in her tired eyes. She swept over silently to gather her daughter. The little girl, wanting to postpone her itinerary, re-ignited the conversation.

“Guess what I am?” She was balancing on a forward foot, with chin extended.
“Well, I'm not sure.” I responded. “Could we be in the presence of royalty?”

Of course she did not understand a word I said. She had very little patience, unable to give me time to formulate another conclusion.

“I'm a Princess!” She announced to the entire west wing of the 99.

“I knew it all along!” My father exclaimed. “Don't listen to him, your highness”, pointing at yours truly.

She giggled as her Mom gathered her up in her arms. My father and her mom exchanged compliments and greetings.

“Ok, little Princess, it's time to get back to the castle.” Mom bounced her back to the booth.

The last thing I saw, before our main meals arrived, was Mom dipping a napkin in her ice water, trying to wash off the candy apple smudge. “That's cold!” ... “Shhh.” Mom sticks the napkin in her mouth, to warm it up. A bit a more squirming, a quick nose rub, then a somewhat quiet meal.

Yeah. My mom did that napkin thing to me, too.

So, we fast-forward to today.

My Dad and I are in the 99. They have gotten closed caption religion on the television sets, so the mild din of public conversation is the only noise factor. It is cold and rainy weather, the day before Mother's day. The venue and the weather reminded me of time we met a little princess and her mother. I recanted the story to my Dad. We started talking about his mom, my mom and the little princess' mother. The old war horse started to get misty on me.

I dearly hope that some decades hence, that little princess becomes the queen of her own American castle. I hope she gathers her own little princess, in her tired arms and wipes the candy smudge from her face, with that same motherly love in her eyes.

Visit more Moms over at Basil's.


SeanS said...

Insol, that was one of the finest Mother's Day stories I have ever heard. Thanks.

Insolublog said...

SeanS - Thanks.

The Conservative UAW Guy said...

That was beautiful.

And the restaurant plays Fox News on the TV!!!
Makes the tale even sweeter! ;)

Well done, Insol (as usual).

linda said...

That was an absolutely charming, adorable post, Insol! I was totally there, watching it happen!

BTW, tell your dad we appreciate his service to our great counttry!

Insolublog said...

CUG - Thanks man. We go to the 9's because they have Fox!

linda - I'm glad I could describe the scene for you. My Dad will appreciate your compliment.

Ssssteve said...

Insol, I know I'm late here but that was awesome!! Your dad sounds like a great kid person. Like mine!! And ditto to Linda's appreciation!!!

Insolublog said...

Thanks, Ssssteve. My Dad has become quite a companion and friend in his older years. Not bad for a former career non-commissioned sgt.

RT said...

That was a beautiful story and beautifully written.