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another layer to the woman I call Mom


As my mother has gotten older she has shared some interesting details with me regarding her life travels. A few years ago we were on our way to lunch and we passed the local funeral home. They have a sign in front where they use those removable white letters to post the name of that day's decedent. It's a small town and usually there's only one name on the menu. (That's what my friends and I called the sign: the menu. As in, who's on today's menu? That's very disrespectful, I know. What do you expect from a 13-year-old on a yellow ten-speed?)

So this one day my mom and I are driving by and we both glance over to see a name we recognize -- our former family doctor. There's some kind of convoluted explanation on how we are "related" to this man. But it's not in any kind of blood or legal way. It's one of those, our family grew up near their family and they were really good friends so we started to call them Aunt and Uncle, even though we are not actually related to them. Anyway, Dr. Rebandt was on the menu that day.

Seeing the name launched my mom into a story about the good doctor. I'm pretty sure my mom grew up with him, knowing him as a child and an adult. She said she pretty much knew him all of her life and he felt like a brother to her. She just wasn't attracted to him romantically.

Anyway, she proceeds to tell me that one day Dr. Rebandt professed his love to her and asked her to marry him. She said she gently let him down and declined the offer. Of course later she married my dad and had six kids who she carted to see Dr. Rebandt over the years for ear infections and fevers. She finished the story with this sentence, "And he never married."

For your perusal, here is a photo of my mom circa 1950 around the time Dr. Rebandt was smitten.

I had a lot of different thoughts regarding this information. First and foremost was: wow, other men were romantically attracted to my mother. Much as I like to believe I am an adult who can look at my parents as people with feelings, fears, hopes and dreams more often than not, I see them as just Mom and Dad.

Then of course, I thought about how it must have been awkward for Dr. Rebandt every time he saw my mom with more and more children and a ring on her finger. But maybe men don't dwell on that kind of thing. Do men compartmentalize stuff? Maybe he felt like she was an awesome tie he would have loved to have in his closet, but accepted that someone else made it to Macy's first. Perhaps he admired her from afar but accepted fate and didn't take it personally. Maybe he did pine for her all of his life and decided no other woman was worth marrying.

My next thought was: my father could have been a doctor! So I said to her, "Mom, he was a doctor! Why didn't you try to date him to see if there was a spark?" She just smiled and said, "I wasn't interested in him that way."

"But he was a doctor" I persisted. "My father could have been a doctor."

And her smile just got wider. I guess I'm the shallow one.


2007-06-13 at 6:21 a.m.

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