The Silver Fox

By Paul Jay Reed

 

        My mother was a beautiful, intelligent, and very independent woman.  She had the figure of a goddess, and everywhere she went the compliments ranged from mere catcalls to sheer worship.  Her usual response to even the subtlest compliment was an innocent smile and a modest “Why thank you, kind sir.”  During the mid-70s, when CBs became a national fad and everyone seemed to own one, my mother was in her mid to late twenties.  By then she was beginning to sprout some gray hairs, which she was quite proud of.  She felt it gave her a distinguished look.  Her initial CB handle was “Blackhawk,” a nickname conferred on her by her father, when she was a little girl.  But when she sprouting gray hairs, she changed her handle to “The Silver Fox.”

My mother was beautiful indeed.  Whenever I lived with her and my stepfather, we usually lived in predominantly white neighborhoods, and I attended elementary school where there were typically fewer than ten or eleven black students in the entire school.  I recall once there was a PTA program at our school; I was in the fourth grade.  Of the black students, only about three of us had parents who attended.  This was the mid 70s,the era of “Charlie’s Angels.”  The most beautiful of the mothers were considered those who had the Farrah Fawcett look – blond and blue-eyed.  It was a pageant of mothers, as each child poked out his or her chest at the slightest homage paid to his or her mother’s looks.  I’ll never forget how when my mother came strutting in, hips swaying from side to side, head held high, displaying perfect white teeth through full sensuous lips, all eyes –adults and children – were on her. With the grace of a diva, she walked over to me, stooped down to straighten the collar of my shirt, and patted my afro back into a perfect round shape.  She then kissed me on the forehead and, with a radiant approving smile, said “You look cute, baby!”  Of course I felt embarrassed by these maternal attentions performed in the presence of my schoolmates.

When she walked away to find a seat with my stepfather, all the other kids (some of whom had never spoken to me before) ran over to me, saying with incredulous excitement “Is THAT your mother, Paul? God, she is really pretty!”  With an air of filial pride and a puerile attempt at nonchalance, I hunched my shoulders and responded to each compliment about my mother’s beauty with “Yea, I know.” 

 

Note: This is an excerpt from my journal/memoir, written on February 2, 2013 - my mother’s birthday - as a tribute to the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.  Doris Ann “Lavine” Branch, February 2, 1949 – July 22, 2009.

 

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