Day Mama Got Lost
became a tradition in our house, when our oldest child began grade
school, to share our days eventsthe good, the bad,
and often the hilarious, much to the delight of our three children,
who loved the stories and soon began sharing some of their own.
I had begun to notice that sometime over the past year and a half,
my stories were not being received with as much pleasure as they
had been in the earlier days. My children were often distracted
during my tales, playing with their food, climbing up and down
from their chairs, even asking to be excused.
husbands stories, to the contrary, continued to border on
the outrageous, often questionable side of things, and were full
of such wonder and adventure that even I sat in awed silence wondering
where on earth he came up with such things. I couldnt imagine
he actually lived them. He was an accountant, stuck in an office
asked him about it one day, but he just laughed and said, "Emily,
we need to get you out more."
as a stay-at-home, work-at-home, mother of three small children,
the opportunity was about as rare as snow in Florida.
Peter, what-do-ya-say, my boy? Got any good stories for us tonight?"
My husband asked, as he usually did, trying to get things started.
nights it was Peter bouncing with impatience to tell his story,
but tonight was different. Tonight, Peter was sulking.
mad at Mama," Caroline spoke up, always full of such information.
husband looked at me and raised one eyebrow. I smiled but didnt
say a word.
why is that?" my husband asked, bewildered.
overslept and we were all late for school and Peter forgot his
backpack and his lunch was in it and Mama wasnt at home
to answer the phone when Peter tried to call and then she was
an hour late picking us up from school and Peter said he wasnt
gonna talk to her till tomorrow." Caroline finished this
last bit of information with a little sigh, as though that were
the most difficult of all, the not speaking to someone for an
entire day. And for our little Caroline, this much was true.
Emily, what do you have to say to that?" My husband asked
with his most serious of voices, though I could see the grin sparkling
in his eyes. He was looking for a story, or ready to give a story,
I honestly couldnt tell which, but Peter spoke up first.
was probably out gallavantin," Peter said sarcastically.
make fun of Mama. She cant help it if nothin excitin
ever happens to her," the youngest, Katie Ann, said with
a little pout to her bottom lip.
but shes home all day long," Peter snapped back, rolling
his eyes. "Whats she expectin to happen?"
they were right. Nothing exciting ever happened to me. I led a
boring life, but it was a hectic one where spare minutes were
about as common as priceless rubies and losing one about as devastating.
contemplated their words while taking another sip of the iced-cold
tea, remembering how hot and thirsty I had been stranded out there
on the side of the road, with no cell phone, and no other sign
of life in sight. I had never felt more lost, more alone, and
at times frightened to my wits end. But, funny, looking back on
it now it wasnt so frightening. It was peaceful and relaxing
and about as quiet as church services on a Sunday morning.
what happened to you today?" My husband finally asked.
I got lost."
right!" Peter huffed.
poor, Mama!" Katie Ann whimpered.
didnt you tell me?" Caroline whined.
took another swallow of deliciously sweet iced tea and smiled.
Yes, it was good to be home.
thats why you got lost?" My husbands voice was
beginning to get that edge to it.
exactly, but its what started it."
come on Emily. Out with it! A guy can only take so much."
right then." And so I told him, all of them, the story of
my adventure. How I had overslept because he had failed to reset
the alarm clock. How I had forgotten that the fuel gauge on his
old beat-up pickup was stuck on half a tank. How I had gone to
market and took the scenic route home.
she loves the rollin hills," Caroline interrupted.
smiled, then continued telling them how the truck had sputtered
up the hill and the engine shut off coming down the other side.
It rolled to a stop on the side of the road and refused to start
then what did you do?" Peter asked, sounding as much worried
as excited. Peter lived for adventures.
got out of the truck and started walking." I couldnt
help but smile when I said it. Partly because it was so unlike
me to do something like that, and partly because Peter was so
enthralled in my story that he was actually speaking to me again.
started walking?" My husband didnt sound too thrilled
with the idea. "Where was your cell phone?"
have it. Yours fell in the lake."
yes, the lake." He was silent for a moment but then spoke
up again, as though trying to make sense of how I could have possibly
gotten lost. "What about other cars, people, houses along
were none. It was that long stretch of road where there was nothing
but rolling hayfields and farmlands."
hmm. I know the place."
well after today so do I and quite well, I might add." I
took a moment to take a few bites of pecan pie, wondering if they
would even notice the food, that the cooking was not my own, but
so far none of them had said a word about it.
you just started walking?" my husband asked.
I walked, first across the hayfields, then through a meadow, but
somehow I got turned around and lost my way, so I sat down to
rest in a nice little shaded spot with the softest green grass
and ate some of Peters lunch and then took a short nap.
I woke up when I felt something slide across my leg and when I
sat up I realized it was a snake, but of the prettiest combination
of orange and red and yellow. I watched it slither off through
the grass, its movements ruffling the tall blades as though it
were nothing more than the wind."
mean you werent even scared when you saw it?" Katie
Ann wished to know.
Not at all. I felt as though I had been given a gift. That only
I knew what was hidden beneath that tall grass making that soft,
what did ya do next?" Peter asked.
that I packed up what was left of the food, put it in your backpack,
which you, thankfully, left in the pickup, and threw it over my
shoulder. In the distance I could see a trail of dust stirring
and as I got closer I noticed it was a tractor plowing up a field
so I headed in that direction. It took a long while and before
I was even close enough to motion for help, it started to rain,
so I ran toward a cluster of wild trees growing out in the middle
of the field.
know, I know, Caroline, I should never stand under trees in a
lightning storm, but there was no lightning, and it wasnt
much of a storm, just a nice rain. I can still remember the way
it fell on my umbrella of trees, and the rustling sound it made,
when I closed my eyes, I could still smell it, that rain, and
how it smelled of wet grasses and freshly-tilled soil. And I remembered
standing there and how a thousand days of my childhood came rushing
back to me. Sweet days, full of laughter and play. Simple times.
Times I had forgotten in the hectic rush of my daily life.
did you stand there till someone found you?" Katie Ann asked.
opened my eyes and realized I had drifted and that everyone was
watching me, even my husband. It was nice.
no. It eventually stopped raining. I made my way close enough
to the tractor for the driver to see me and he turned it around
and headed my way, only I was surprised to learn it was a woman
and not a man driving the tractor."
got a startled cry from around the table.
A woman? What was she like?" Caroline was the first to ask.
was old and gray but with a kick in her step that made her seem
much younger. We became good friends on the ride back into town."
rode on her tractor?" Peter sounded astounded.
just rode, I actually drove her tractor."
way cool, Mama," Peter announced. "You should get lost
maybe so," I returned with a grin.
stood to carry their dirty, but empty, dishes into the kitchen,
but Katie Ann stopped and turned around.
Im glad you didnt stay lost for good."
smiled. "Mama is too."
that evening, after the kids were sound asleep, I found my husband
standing outside in the dark, staring up at a scattering of stars.
sorry, Emily," he said softly.
what?" I took a few steps closer. "You mean because
I broke down or because I got lost?"
well both." He turned toward me and reached for my hand.
"Im sorry that it took getting lost for you to find
sparkle. In your eyes. I saw it again while you were telling your
smiled but didnt say a word.
I didnt know any better, Id say you enjoyed getting
say that I did, cant say that I didnt," I returned
playfully. "But I do know one thing."
whats that?" he asked, pulling me closer.
next time I do, Im taking you with me."
Spires lives in a small town in North Florida, along with
her husband and three daughters. She has had articles published
in Adoption Today and Roots and Wings Magazine.