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Chapter 7

Hood Canal from Theler Wetlands

Hood Canal from Theler Wetlands

Harry had never married, never really dated. They met at the tavern below our small apartment. I used to bang saucepans on the floor at night as a signal for Mom to come up and be with me for a while before I went to bed. She couldn’t hear me for the shuffleboard.

They dated down there at the Jolly Inn, and taking Sunday drives “around the loop” of Hood Canal. He told her he’d loved her for twelve years. Mom made him wait one more year and then married him when I was twelve.

Move, slug. I poke a stick at it. The Theler Wetlands is all slugs and mud and drips. The slug is, for about 10 seconds, the focus of my attention. I’ll remember it for a while, then it’ll be like it never existed. Your mind just lets it go to make room for new thoughts and memories.

It’s very quiet except for the birds. The tide is out and I can see the oyster beds. I try to capture a photo of two birds chasing each other around and around over the mud flats, but they are too quick. No wonder Harry loved the Canal. The kingfishers and osprey, the seagulls and the eagle I am watching mainly play, hunt, and eat. We can learn from that.

The slippery boardwalk takes me past cattails, nettles, a giant stump, bat boxes, tiny trickling streams. P1100662 copyP1100660

When we married Harry life became a lot less slippery. We had a car. He brought no drama. Instead, he brought humor with his silly antics and singsongs. I’d tried to keep a straight face by focusing on the purple shrapnel marks on his ankles. I looked bored, aloof.  Harry 1He probably wondered why he failed to make me smile. He could not have read my thoughts, which were: I’m trying not to like him, but I do.

Mom was doing better, too. For the first time, she whistled and wrote love poems. Life was lighter. In these early married years, my mother and her sisters laughed hysterically sitting around the dining room table over coffee and cigarettes, making fun of ex-husbands.

But time wore on, and passing thoughts and little wounds took their toll. Then it was beer they drank instead of coffee.  While Harry was at work it went back to the perennial talk show episode Men Who Weren’t What They Appeared to Be.  I would go stand by Mom in the smokey haze and remember her past with her because she had passed her DNA on to me and I could remember her life like it was my own.

We didn’t talk about everything.

Like the night of the red satin dress, when a little girl told her mother that Daddy played “operation” while Mommy fought for her life.

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