Friday, October 20, 2006
A Louisville rendezvous
I've already received a call from my mother this morning. It came before 6 a.m., so I was worried that something was wrong in Louisville. After all, Laurie and I had just visited with her via cell phone all the way from my house to Slate's Restaurant last night. We had to stop Mother almost in mid-sentence to tell her we'd arrived at the restaurant and would be going inside now.
It was difficult to bring the conversation to a close because of her enthusiastic need to tell us all about the trip so far. We know the weather is disgusting because the 98 percent humidity is doing a number on her hair. We know that earlier this week she picked out the champion in one of the classes at the Arabian Nationals. The area around Louisville and Lexington with its story-book horse farms is beyond beautiful.
We also know that Barbara has thought of everything, even a novel foot rest made from a belt for her wheelchair which came without foot pads. I also know, from her call earlier in the day which came to me while I was in the museum restroom, that she's having the time of her life. Her bubbly voice told me so.
Today Mother has a really special day in store. Her friend from a Sandpoint of long ago is driving nearly a hundred miles from south of Lexington to come and visit for the day. That's why I received the early-morning call. Barbara had not thought of everything this morning; she'd gone off to today's youth judging contest with the hotel pin which would allow Mother's friend into the room. I told Mother to call the desk, but she insisted that Barbara had the pin and she wanted her cell phone number.
I'm sure the problem will get worked out and that Karen Hayden will, indeed, find her way into Mother's hotel room.
"We're just going to gab all day," Mother told me last night. Karen is the daughter of our first family doctor in Sandpoint. Her mother Marge was one of Mother's very best friends back in the late '40s and early '50s after both families arrived in Sandpoint shortly after the war. Apparently, Mother's Christmas Day 1945 arrival by train preceded that of the Haydens because Sandpoint had no doctor.
That's why my brother Kevin was born at Sacred Heart Hospital in 1946. Later, however, when Kevin had an eye infection, a Dr. Wilbur Hayden, fresh from the war, treated one of his first patients in Sandpoint. A friendship was born. Dr. Hayden's first wife Marge was an artist like Mother. They hit it off and remained friends, even after the marriage ended and Marge moved away. In the meantime, Dr. Hayden became friends with my dad; they were hunting buddies.
I can remember Mother telling stories about when she and Marge would go by boat to Pend Oreille Lodge, a magnificent gathering place once located on the lakeshore at Bottle Bay. That was during the era when entertainers Bing Crosby and Phil Harris would be seen around North Idaho and at the lake lodges. I can also remember stories Harold would tell about deer hunting with "Doc" Hayden in the Sand Creek drainage.
As the years passed, Dr. Hayden would deliver me, my two sisters and my brother Jim. In fact, there's the classic family story of Jim's birth at halftime of the Sandpoint-Lewiston football game on October 18, 1963 when Sandpoint defeated Lewiston 9-7 in their last undefeated football season ever. My brother Kevin was playing on the Bulldog team, so, of course neither Mother nor Dr. Hayden wanted to miss the game. The doctor brought his radio.
We saw Karen, their daughter, off and on over the years whenever she'd come home to Sandpoint. Karen always told me how much she admired my mother, especially because of the horses. I haven't seen Karen since we visited with her and her mother in Cornelius, Oregon, about 20 years ago. Somehow, she's ended up in Kentucky, and happily, she and Mother will have plenty of time to talk old times---if she gets into the hotel, that is.
Tonight after the judging contest ends, the whole entourage will attend a very special segment of the national show which features the Black Stallion. Mother has her pearls and her new outfit for the evening program. I don't know what Karen plans to wear, but I'm sure that when Mother returns we'll have one more good tale to add to a very special friendship which dates back 60 years.