I don’t think I was more than 3-years old, when one day you were bringing me home from Spreckle’s Lake. On the way out of the park, I tripped and skinned my knee. You picked me up and made it better.
That’s as far back as I can remember, but it sure seems like you did that a lot over the years. You were pretty good at fixing owies.
I might have been 5 when I got that terrible case of the flu. My stomach was rejecting everything, and each time I headed to the bathroom you were right behind me, holding my forehead.
As I look back, I’m really amazed at how you managed to cart me around without a car. Dance lessons from that lady with the awful breath, ice skating lessons at Legg’s, Sundays spent at Fairyland, piano lessons, the bowling league, swimming lessons – how did you do it? You must have had more information about the bus system than the bus system did.
Remember how we used to stand in the living room window and wave goodbye to Daddy?
You could have made a living staging birthday parties. I had the best parties of any kid I knew. Funtier Town, Disney on Ice, the Hobo party – your imagination was incredible. Who else would have written the entire invitation as a poem, just so it could be signed, “Yours Truly, Teddy Streuli?”
I remember the day you took me all the way to San Jose and back on Southern Pacific just because I wanted to ride on a train. You took me to visit a fire station in Fairfax just because I wanted to ride on a Greyhound bus. You even spent one whole day dragging me around the city so I could check out streetcars, cable cars, and electric buses.
I was devastated the day that dumb parakeet died. I came home from school (first grade, wasn’t it?) and you told me about Jeffrey. I sat in your rocking chair and cried for at least an hour, though it felt like a day. You didn’t get mad that I made such a fuss; you just let me cry and gave me a hug.
I know there were years when you and Dad didn’t buy each other Christmas presents because money was tight, yet Santa Claus always managed to come through for me.
I may have felt the closest to you after Dad died. Do you remember the day I took you out for a drive? We just talked about things. Nothing important – in fact, I can’t recall any topic in particular. It meant a lot to me. I’m glad I was able to do a few things for you by the time I was in my teens, though it would take a lifetime to balance out everything you did for me. I thought the nurse would kill me when I got caught sneaking you peanut butter cups in the hospital. I guess it’s a good thing she never found out about the doughnuts or the champagne on New Year’s Eve.
To this day, I don’t think I’ve met a person less selfish than you. Is there anything you wouldn’t do if you thought it would make someone happy? Was there ever a child born you didn’t think was wonderful?
You always welcomed all my friends into our home. Years later I learned they all called you Saint Frances.
It is terribly frustrating to look back and recognize all you did and all you gave, and not be able to take you out for brunch this Sunday and say, “Thanks.” You certainly deserve a lot of that.
I wonder what you would think now, of how my life is turning out. I know you would encourage me to pursue whatever captured my interest; you always did. But every now and again, I trip and fall and skin my knee, and I wish you were here to kiss it and make it all better.