Cheesehead for a Day
It was nearly the end of the second week in January, 1967. I was in love and thinking about a wedding and a wonderful future. I was living with my mother, who had been widowed several years earlier. Despite an oil-and-water chemistry, she and I got along as best we could. We both knew it was time-limited.
Within months after my father's sudden passing, my mother -- a life-long homemaker -- had landed herself a job as the secretary in the maintenance office of the local hospital. Despite being the only woman in the department, she was a valued member of the team; it was she who provided the interface, the explanations, the pacification, between the guys and the people making requests or complaints. The fellows would do anything for her, and were often a godsend to us when something went wrong at home. Sometimes I envisioned her as a kind of Snow White, with Tommy the Carpenter and Mike the Plumber, and Steve who did almost anything and drank quite a bit. She was good to the guys and learned some things from them, too. She began to understand and to follow baseball, for example.
There must have been endless chatter in the maintenance department that week. And she apparently had missed the very beginning of the ongoing conversation. Or perhaps, given the setting, it was the kind of situation where no introduction or explanation was involved. I can picture her there listening, grasping for clues, trying to figure it all out, under no circumstances wanting to reveal her ignorance.
And then one evening, she apparently couldn't continue the pretend understanding any longer. With a serious, earnest, and puzzled demeanor she came to me and said, ever so slowly and carefully,
"Nancy, can you tell me who -- or what -- are the Green Bay Packers?"