There we were, my Mother, the tree and me. She had many things to attend to that afternoon. That's why she was taking the bus into the downtown area, and I was not going with her.
I felt deep in my heart that she was yearning for a solo trip to Kresge's five and ten cent store. She would be on that red soda fountain stool sitting primly with her slice of strawberry pie topped with a glob of whipped cream. She was every bit of twenty-eight years old, and she needed me to help her across the busy streets. Also, I was much shorter and could see the coin slot on the bus where we dropped in our fares, and I was sure she needed my steady hand for this job.
Nevertheless she was going; I was not. She had been talking steadily now for a few minutes, and I thought I had best listen so she could be on her way, and I could have a look at this day that was spread wide before me.
"Don't climb the tree, don't cross the street, don't play on the train tracks, don't climb the tree, don't yell so loud your Aunt may want to take a nap, don't climb the tree, be nice to your little brother, don't make your aunt cry this time, don't climb the tree you will fall out and break your arm!"
I saw a strange peaceful look come across her face as she hopped on the lowest step of the city bus, then she was gone. For me, freedom! My Aunt did take a nap. Little brother was otherwise occupied, and I was alone.
Now I had always felt that my Mother was way, way, too protective of me, and I actually considered that it was up to me to think for myself. At eight years of age, I should have the right to make many of my own decisions. I was smart enough to know that the most important thing missing from my life right then was the cherry ice-cream soda I was losing out on at Kresges. My Mother should be half way through with her pie by now, "She should be ashamed" I thought as I ventured across the street.
The gnarled ancient tree was luring me. No one would ever deliberately aim to block a daring girl's adventures, would they? I felt sure that my Mother had mentioned the tree only because it was in a list of things she thought would impress me. I doubted she even remembered saying anything about the old tree.
Succulent honeysuckle covered the base of the tree, and I sucked the nectar deliberately and steadily as I thought over my next move. It was quiet in the neighborhood, and quiet is something I could hardly tolerate; I sang a snatch of several little ditties that I knew, it was akin to "whistling in the dark."
Suddenly, without completely knowing what had happened, I was in the tree! Had an angel picked me up and put me here? "Yes" that is just what happened since I couldn't remember the climb, not even the first lunge to the lowest branch, why I actually scratched my cheek without knowing it, so it must have been an angel. I knew about angels from Sunday school and my Mother had told me many angel stories. My Mother... oh, oh! Reality set in.
I was higher in the tree than I had ever been before and my knees grew a little shaky as I began the decent. I was on the last (rotten) limb before jumping to the ground when all of the sudden with a loud snap, crackle, and falling with tangled feet, I popped!
My Aunt was awake now and coming into the yard as were most of my sedate neighbors. They came out on their porches and wondered where the attacker was hiding; surely, someone had tried to kill me because I was screaming bloody murder!
After that, things passed quickly in a fuzzy blur, I do remember my Mother stepping off of the bus and another strange look crossed her face, yet somehow it was different from the one she wore when she got on the bus. I came to full awareness in my Doctor's office. I wore a heavy plaster cast and a sling on my broken left wrist for about a month, but by week two, with the help of a pencil, I had loosened the adhesive that had held it stuck tight to my arm and now the cast would spin around like my heirloom charm bracelet. I healed anyway.
I do not remember getting in trouble for this major disobedience; it is possible that I may have blocked this from my mind. I do not remember being sorry for the transgression, surely I was, but I don't think so. I do remember being in awe of my Mother's prophetic powers; she said it would happen, and it happened. I respected her abilities for at least two days, but you know how it is, a girl has to do those things she feels compelled to do urged on by the strange force she can't understand and doesn't want to think about too much.
As for my Mother, she loved me much and held on tight, for the ride continued. She prayed through the years that I would become more like her two compliant and gentle children. Was that prayer ever answered? Well, at seventy-four I can say for sure, I gave her a life of excitement as we traveled many unexpected pathways, and I am not sure she would have ever changed a thing.
"Mom, right now in my heart I am holding your hand, and we're walking down Main Street. Kresges is in site and I have been good all day!"