I stood in the line at the checkout poring over every page of People magazine. Bread, eggs, breakfast cereal, and other groceries Mama took out of our grocery buggy rode the crawling conveyor belt to the clerk at the register while I kept reading. The music drifting through the aisles of Publix melted away as I stared at images of filming locales, movie props, and Harrison Ford in his tattered brown Fedora and dusty leather jacket. Raiders of the Lost Ark had just come out and was shaping up to be the movie event of the summer. A surefire blockbuster our local paper, The Orlando Sentinel, claimed.
And I was missing it all.
I was fourteen and too young to date per my parents’ rules. My three best friends lived with different standards and had gone to see the film opening weekend with their boyfriends. All my available family members were either too young to see the movie due to it’s violent content or too old to want to drag along their younger sibling.
My introverted Daddy preferred drive-ins, but our local one no longer showed anything recent or of the caliber of Raiders.
Mama was a strong lady who handled physical pain, my brothers antics, broken bones, cows birthing calves plus whatever tough situations life threw at her with grace and calm. She rarely raised her voice and had perfected “The Look” that could straighten me, my older sister and four older brothers out in no time flat.
But she hated violence and avoided watching anything with blood, guts, or gore. Daddy made the mistake of taking her to see The Godfather for their anniversary. He’d read and loved the book and didn’t expect the film to be as graphic. He was wrong. She forgave him, but forevermore was skittish when it came to how “adventurous” a film might get. Anything above a mild PG-rating earned a solid “No” from her. No exceptions.
So I was left to watch the countless ads for the movie on TV and pine away in teenage disappointment. Raiders of the Lost Ark had been in theaters for about a month and my hope waned. Until one morning at breakfast when Mama surprised me.
“If you don’t mind being seen with your boring old mom, I’ll go with you to see the movie this Saturday.”
I don’t remember how I reacted. If I didn’t drop my cereal spoon, I should have. Everyone knew this film ran rampant with disturbing scenes that shocked many viewers.
But here was Mama, offering to take me to the movie because I’d set my heart on it.
I sat in the theater, sometimes gripping the armrests of the seat while I watched. Not even the snake pit scene could wipe the smile from my face or calm my thrilled, thumping heart. To this day, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of my favorite movies of all time. I love the music, the breathless action of the story, the underlying meaning of finding faith and realizing the power of God.
From the moment the spiders stuck to Indy’s back in the opening scene, Mama sat through the film with her hand over her eyes. A couple of times she covered her ears and looked down at the floor with her eyes closed. And on more than one occasion she gasped. I believe she might have watched no more than twenty or thirty minutes of the entire movie. Every time I glanced over at her, she had her head down shielding her view with her hand.
When it was over and we made the hour long drive back home, we filled the time talking about how well the film’s makers depicted the Biblical history and Indy’s personal journey. Being a student of the Bible and a long-time Sunday School teacher, she appreciated the respect and research that had gone into creating the storyline.
She also let me know what parts she didn’t appreciate in no uncertain terms.
I thanked her many, many, times during that ride. Adult understanding dawned as I realized what she’d done. From her small gesture she showed me what it takes to truly love someone and what motherhood demands.
She’s been gone for a decade now. I miss her. Every day I still think of things I’d like to tell her, or ask her over the phone. And every so often I’ll watch a movie and giggle, knowing this would have been an “Eye-Coverer.”
Her eyes may have been hidden that day, but mine were opened. I had been blessed with a treasure of a mom and I didn’t have to traipsing around the world to dig her up.
Thanks Mama. Happy Mother’s Day.
*****And to all the moms out there who make these same sacrifices every day, thank you! I hope y’all have a happy Mother’s Day. ****