Mothers Know Everything: A Case of Forbidden Love

As a teenager, I was bored to tears listening to my elders as they reminisced of days forever gone.  Memories resurface, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with those “boring” people as they share their childhood stories.  The booming sound of my Uncle Elbert laughter echoes, in my mind, as he shares childhood antics.

I clearly see my mother’s beautiful smile as she recalls those same memories.

One of my favorite stories involved my mother, Gladys, my Aunt Mildred, their cousin, Mary Emma, and her mother, Martha, affectionately known as Aunt Mark.  The three young ladies, Gladys, Mildred, and Mary Emma were between 16 and 17 years of age, at the time this “incident” occurred.

Mary Emma had fallen deeply in love with a young man, who was also 16 years old.  For whatever reason, which was never disclosed in the numerous retellings of the story, Aunt Mark did not approve of the relationship nor of the young man.  In fact, Mary Emma was not allowed to see him.  As is the case of most forbidden loves, Mary Emma was determined to continue the relationship despite her mother’s instructions.  The relationship did continue, but, in secret.  In fact, it wasn’t long before Mary Emma and her young beau decided they would marry.

The news of the pending marriage was shared with Mary Emma’s most loved and trusted cousins, Gladys and Mildred.  They were sworn to secrecy, as the three of them planned the elopement.

Planning an elopement is not as easy as one might think.  Remember, this was 1940, when most families did not have telephones, much less a cell phone and the word, texting, was not in the dictionary.   The lack of communication was no obstacle to the girls.  Mary Emma’s happiness was at stake.  In their opinion, Aunt Mark was standing in the way of true love.

The plan was devised, though it was both simple and unimaginative.  It was, after all, the first and only elopement in which these three young girls would ever engage.  An overnight stay with Mary Emma was arranged and perhaps the only thing that went according to the plan.  After the family was asleep, Mary Emma would leave through the bedroom window, where her fiancé would be waiting.

At this point of the story, my mother would interject, “we never gave any thought to what we would tell Aunt Mark the next morning when she discovered Mary Emma was gone.”

As they waited for the darkness, Gladys and Mildred assisted Mary Emma as she packed a few clothes in a small suitcase.  All was ready.  Darkness descended and the appointed time quickly approached.  The window was quietly raised, and nervous goodbyes were shared.   As Mary Emma climbed on the window- sill, preparing to make her descent, the three girls looked down and standing outside beneath the window was Aunt Mark, along with the young bridegroom. Waiting.  Not a word was spoken.

Mary Emma quickly pulled herself back into the bedroom as they heard Aunt Mark’s no-nonsense, sharp tongue send the boy on his way, never to return.  Mary Emma, Gladys, and Mildred waited as they heard the back door close.  After a good “talking-to” and “what were you youngins’  thinking”, and “better, NEVER do anything like this again”, the three wedding planners retired for the night.

As with each telling of this escapade, my mother would conclude the story, by saying, “We never figured out how Aunt Mark found out what we were planning.”

Perhaps, it was just another stellar story of how mothers know everything.

Happy Mother’s Day