Scene from my youth

Somebody mentioned on the radio today that it’s been fifty years since the 1967 Israeli Six-Day War.

I remember that summer well. The live telecasts of UN meetings, the speeches. Abba Eban addressing the General Assembly.

But mostly I remember my summer job.

I didn’t generally have summer jobs as a kid. I lived on a farm. That was my summer job. Hoeing thistles and pulling mustard weeds, fence repair; there was pretty much always something to do.

But that summer I was an orderly. For my mother.

Mom had broken her leg. She’d stood on the kitchen table to clean an overhead hot air register, and the table collapsed. The break was bad, and she came home with a big cast on her leg.

The folks asked me to take care of her for the summer. They’d pay me for it. So I jockeyed bed pans down to our basement bathroom for three months.

One day I was given some job or other to do up in the hay loft above the barn. I forget what I was doing – probably just re-stacking the hay bales. Sometimes that had to be done. I don’t know where my dad and brothers were that day. Mom didn’t need me for a while; I’d left her with the TV on and a book to read.

I heard a car pulling into the driveway.

I stuck my head out the hatch, looking out over the top of the ladder I’d climbed to get up there. Our guest was our pastor.

My keen analytical mind immediately started calculating. I’d left Mom reading. The book was one of those gaudy historical novels she used to get from her sister. A book with a pretty lurid cover.

I’d heard the pastor, more than once from the pulpit, tell how he sometimes visited parishioners and was shocked by the salacious reading material they had around.

“Hello Pastor!” I cried out, louder than usual. I engaged him in conversation as long as I could, speaking as loudly as I could. I’m not that kind of conversationalist in the ordinary way of things.

But I wanted to alert Mom and give her time to hide the paperback.

Finally the pastor went inside.

I don’t know how it went. I don’t know if Mom caught my warning. I don’t know what they said to each other. Mom and I weren’t close. I never asked and she never told.

But I felt I’d done my best to fulfill my filial duty.

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