My mother had few what I would call prize possessions. Things never meant much to her, just people. But sometimes, things can remind you of people and you end up cherishing the things as much as the memories they evoke.
My mother had every single Johnny Mathis record every released. She'd received them all at once as a Christmas present from a boyfriend who knew how much she loved his voice. Those albums were her release from bad days, stressful nights and, sometimes, annoying children. I knew how much they meant to her, but I was too young - or too stupid - to care.
When mom left town, I'd occassionally use her records as frisbees. I don't know why. Who can explain the actions of young children? It just seemed like the thing to do. I never reached for the Jethro Tull records or the Wham! albums, no-no, I always went straight for the Johnny Mathis ones.
It was all well and good until one night, my mother had had a horrendous day. Work was Hell, a friend of hers had died and my father was . . less than sympathetic. She went to her old stand-by: Johnny.
The first record she put on just happened to be an original recording of a live performance. VERY rare, to say the least. I still don't know how Larry found that one. But he did, and it was my mom's favorite. I didn't pay much attention until the album started skipping.
Mom leapt from the recliner and raced to the record player with a speed that would have impressed Jackie Joyner-Kersey. She gently pulled the needle from the grooves and inspected the oft abused album. The racket I heard coming from my mother was a million times worse than the skipping and screeching of the record player just moments before. I thought the roof was going to come down on top of us.
She threw herself to the floor and wailed for what seemed like hours, though I know it couldn't have been more than a few minutes. My heart was torn from my chest. I was despondent over what I had done. The honest parts of me were dying to confess, but the more practical side realized that I couldn't. In her state of mind, homicide was a very real possibility. So, instead, I ran to my room, hid in my closet and cried my little eyes out.
Many years later, during a weekend home from college, we were cleaning out closets and stumbled across her Johnny Mathis collection. The six-year old still inside me couldn't take the guilt of what I'd done one second longer. I stutteringly confessed to using her records as frisbees all those years ago.
Expecting a tongue lashing, and possibly a slap across the face, I closed my eyes tight and waited for her anger. But it never came. Instead, I heard a small giggle that soon turned into a deep belly laugh. "Oh, baby, that's too funny. You know, I used to use my mom's 45s as frisbees whenever she wasn't at home. What is it about a record that just makes you want to launch it across a room?"