Happy 80th, Mom!

Dear Mom,
My memories of you are many, but seem always to revolve around your patience. I never told you that I always admired how good in math you were, for instance, but your patience hovers over everything. You taught me to drive. On a stick. 1897, I think it was. You took me to the big hill, coming up from the trestle to Walnut and Bethel at the stop sign. You put it in neutral, put the parking brake on, and I got in the driver’s seat and had to take the brake off, put it into first, give it gas, and let out the clutch. I was petrified—to say nothing of the line of cars behind us—but you never lost your cool. Actually, I
don’t know what you were thinking because you didn’t get back into the car, you just walked home. I drove by there not too long ago, and I see it’s hardly a hill at all. How tall was I back then, eight inches? A foot? And then you drove me over to Center City Philadelphia and made me drive back. Why did you scare me like that? What is wrong with you, woman? A one-foot tall kid driving on Vine Street, the Ben Franklin, and Route 130 with lanes that are about 36 inches wide? (I just drove there, and they still are.) But we made it back to Cedar Avenue somehow, and now I’m a confident, carefree driver. Those are not the words Jackie would use, so I’d just like to tell her that it’s all due to you. Not that I inherited any of that patience—no, you don’t catch me teaching Priscilla how to drive. You’ve just given me this impossible model, this bright, shining example of what a loving person should be, something I can never live up to, thank you, thank you so much. I’m already older than you were when you taught me to drive, but your model of patience gives me something to shoot for when I’m 80, and if I’ve got the math right, you’ll be 320. Love, Kile

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