By: Patricia Tramble
“Amanda, Jacob scored his first goal today!” Bruce was so excited. “The crowd went mad! There they were the Tiger vs the Cougars, game tied 4-4, Jimmy Thomas kicks the ball down the field and our little Tiger runs interference and takes the ball away. He’s kickin’ and runnin’… runnin’ and kickin’ both teams behind him, the goalie in front. He lines up just like I taught him and wham! He kicks it in for the winning goal. That’s my boy!”
“That’s wonderful, I’m so proud!” I’m excited on the inside right along with Bruce. Our little boy has really grown up in all of seven years. Who would have thought a quiet, shy, and precocious little youngster would become a star quality athlete. Forgive me, but please allow me to brag just a little bit, I’m a proud parent. You see, Jacob was a premature baby and my pregnancy was difficult. He weighed 4 pounds at birth and was 12 inches long. He was born with jaundice yet, he had the prettiest crystal blue eyes you could ever want to see with a head full of curly blond hair. It was like looking into the face of an angel. His father and I prayed and stayed by his side as often as the nurse and doctor would allow. He was in an incubator for a couple of months due to the jaundice and the respiratory infection he developed at birth. That was the hardest thing I personally had to go through. Between Bruce, mother, and me that child was surrounded by lots of love and prayers. Now he’s winning soccer games!
“Mommy, Mommy did daddy tell you I won the soccer game?” Jacob came in smiling just excited as his dad.
“Of course he did dear and mommy is so proud of you!”
“Mommy, you should have seen me! I lined up like daddy showed me in the backyard and I kicked with all my might and it went in.”
“I know dear and mommy’s so proud!” I scream in my head.
I could feel every fiber of Jacobs’ excitement come through his little body as he threw his arms around me. “Come on kiddo, we have to go now. Grandma is cooking dinner for us.” Bruce says to Jacob. He then kisses me on the forehead. “I love you, Amanda. We’ll see you later.” He kisses me again on the check.
“Bye mommy.” I hear Jacob say.
“Bye Jacob see you later. Be a good boy, I love you too” as I hear them leave the room.
There’s nothing like family. Whether they make you happy or sad or vise versa, it’s all-good. Bruce and I met in college. He was majoring in auto mechanics and I in theater. I love the stage. He tried out for a play I was performing in on a dare. When we met, it was love at first sight. But mother was not fond of him. Bruce was so unconventional. Most boys try to be charming and warm up to a girl’s mother for brownie points but not Bruce. When he met my mother for the first time, she commented on the length of his hair. She said to him in her sweet charming condescending way, “I’m pleased to meet you Bruce. Your hair is simply beautiful. I sure hope when you take my daughter out no one mistakes you two for sisters.” Bruce winked at mother and smiled with his quick wit and equally charming way and said, “I just hope we don’t make the girls jealous as he flipped his hair back with his hand.”
His comment left mother flabbergasted. For the first time I have known her, she didn’t know what to say. Bruce had thick blond shoulder length hair. It looked beautiful against his fair skin and big crystal blue eyes. He was dreamy for sure. But he was definitely a man’s man all the way from riding motorcycles to working as a grease monkey at Bill’s Auto Shop during the week and on weekends to help pay his tuition. He told me when we were dating that one day he would own his own auto and motorcycle shop and he is doing just that.
After college Bruce and I got married. Like most college newlyweds we were broke so we moved into a little efficiency in downtown Akron. I worked as a secretary at the FirstMerit Bank and Bruce continued to work at the auto shop. As luck would have it, Bill decided to sell the shop and give Bruce the first chance to buy it. Bill even co-signed for the loan at the bank just so Bruce could get the shop. Everyone in Akron who went to Bruce or worked with him knew he had a stellar reputation as being one of the best reasonable priced mechanics in Akron. He could listen to the sound of a car or a bike and tell you what’s wrong. He was just that good. Then, I got promoted at the bank to assistant bank manager and the rest was history.
We moved out to Green township in the suburbs and bought a three-bedroom ranch home on a half acre of land. We were so proud because we accomplished this all on our own within the first ten years of our marriage. In the sixth year Jacob was born. In spite of the complications at his birth, he grew into a healthy boy. We enrolled him into Wellington Academy a private school. This was his father’s idea of grooming him to become a man. “I want my son to be a manly man and have the best education in the city.” Whatever that means. Anyway the curriculum and the school were good for Jacob because he is an only child. We wanted him to be social and make friends. This didn’t happen until he entered second grade and tried out for the soccer team. Jacob could run like a gazelle. I think thing this is the skill that impressed his coach and got him on the Tiger Team.
After the family ate dinner and the kitchen was cleaned with dishes properly put away just like clockwork, my mother comes to my room for a visit. It is her custom to talk to me about the day’s events. “Amanda, I’m glad Jacob did such a fine job playing soccer ball today but school comes first.” Mother interrupts my thoughts about Bruce and I. “After all, you don’t want him to grow-up to be a dumb jock. If you ask me too much emphasis is placed on sports.”
“I know mother, I know. Here we go again…” I get so tired of this type of conversation.
“Your father did not play sports, God rest his soul and it did not make him any less of a man.”
“I know mother.”
“Face it Amanda, I like Bruce but all that macho hocus pocus… my son this and that, I think it’s a bit much. You can put too much pressure on a child at such a young age.”
“Mother trust Bruce. He knows what he’s doing.” I say.
“I know you think I don’t trust Bruce, but sometimes I just wonder about him… I guess it takes a man to understand another man because God knows I don’t and I was married to one for over 32 years.”
My mother, my mother what can I say? She’s a beautiful woman with fair skin and fine age lines around her hazel brown cat-like eyes. To be 62, she has maintained a nice figure along with a head full of salt and pepper gray hair. She’s a cantankerous woman who believes the world is not run for her benefit although it should be. The world should ask her opinion and take her advice on certain matters.
My parents and I lived on 2nd Avenue in Akron. A small nice not ritzy or fancy neighborhood where neighbors kept their yards nice and clean. Children were well behaved in public and under the watchful eyes of adults. Everyone knew everyone on my street. My dad worked at one of the local rubber factory’s in Akron while my mom stayed home. They appeared to have a good marriage. One evening daddy worked the night shift, which he wasn’t use to because he always worked days. He thought the extra money would come in handy for Christmas. Mom received a phone call at about 4:00 am in the morning stating there had been an accident at the plant. My mom called a neighbor to watch me while she phoned for a taxi to take her to dad. When she got to factory there were paramedics and the plant manager was outside. My dad was pronounced dead at the hospital. He died inside the plant due to a faulty boiler that blew. I was 13 years old when dad died, 10 days before Christmas. The plant took full responsibility for the accident, mom received a settlement and was able to pay off the house and put me through college. But, I can tell she still misses my dad.
After I married Bruce, I knew she was lonely. She had activities and friends, but she came home to an empty house. When I got pregnant with Jacob, I had toxemia and high blood pressure. Bruce had to work and what was supposed to be a temporary living arrangement became permanent, mom moved in. Mom had a problem with Bruce, but Bruce did not have a problem with mom. I think he goads her just for fun.
“Hey mother, there was a guy who came into the shop today and I think he would be perfect for you. He told me what was wrong with his car without my checking. He also told me how to fix it and what he should be charged. I think you two would be perfect together.” Bruce would come home from work and say things like this to mom from time to time.
“So what do you think mother?” He’d ask.
Mother would give him a firm stare and say, “Oh, shut-up Bruce! I sure hope you listened to the gentleman and took his advice.”
Bruce would wink and say, “Of course, I did mother. I know he will be back next week when he discovers what he said was wrong wasn’t the problem.” He’d then walk away laughing. In her own way, I know she loves him.
“Amanda, I’m not trying to get into your business.” Mother continued bringing me back to a conversation I had gladly gotten away from.
“Yes, you are mother.” I say to myself.
“I just think you should consider what I’m saying about Bruce’s over emphasis on sports and being a man nonsense. That’s all I’m saying and that’s all I got to say for right now.”
“Of course mother.”
“Well Amanda, I’m going to be going now sleep well dear.”
“Goodnight mother, you do the same.”
A Mother is a person who can truly make you tired. But what mother has not perfected that skill when it comes to her children? I guess if it were not for Bruce, I would probably get on Jacob’s nerves with the do’s and don’t s of behavior and life. Thank God for Bruce!
The next day when Bruce visits I hear the nurse say, “Bruce, it’s been six months since the accident and she hasn’t woken up.”
“I know, I know it’s just so hard….” I hear his voice choking back the tears.
“I know” the nurse says with sympathy in her voice. “You and your family have been faithful in your visits. But the insurance company is not going to continue payment without a glimpse of change in her condition. They will not pay for maintenance care. Bruce, her condition is not improving.
“They sent me a letter. I just don’t know how to say goodbye.” I hear Bruce crying.
“Amanda, I love you so much. You are to me now and always as pretty as the day we first met. Your long black hair and bright brown eyes are forever in front of me. You have given me a beautiful son. A mother-in-law, I would not buy for a penny nor would I trade her for a million. She takes care of us and watches over me. At night sometimes, I can hear her crying. Jacob ask every day, ‘When is mommy coming home?’ I say soon.” I hear the muffled cry as he lays his head down upon my hand. I feel the tear drops fall, but I am unable to respond. He continues…
“We were going to go to Europe one day, Amanda. Ride our motorcycles across the continent to other countries and look at everything. We were going to dine in Paris, and then grow old together. One event can change your entire life. No one should have to decide to let a love one go. No one. Amanda, we haven’t seen our son grow-up…God help me!” I hear him scream.
“I know Bruce, I know.” I but it’s time.
“Bruce?” I hear a man’s voice, I believe it is the doctor.
“Son, do you know what you want to do?” I hear the fatherly voice of Dr. Miles as he walks into my room.
“Yes…yes.” Bruce says with a sad resolve in his voice. “I know life somehow has to go on….”
I feel Bruce’s lips on mine, I hear the sadness in his voice as he whispers, “Goodnight Amanda.”