Sunday, March 3, 2013

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times - Chapter 98

#98  “I'll leave the front porch light on for you.”

Happy Birthday to my brother, Jessie Sidney Wade, Jr., (pictured left), "The Golden Seed," the only boy in a family with four daughters. 

Number 98 of the 100 things my mom taught me a million times may not sound like a lesson, but it is, because it so reflects my mom’s general outlook on life, which was all about subtlety.

My generation’s parents commonly said, “I’ll leave the front porch light on for you.” First because we all had porches because we didn’t have air conditioning, and during the hot summers that’s where everyone sat and slept. 

And second, leaving the front porch light on was my generation’s “parent-speak” for dating rules, meaning, “I’m paying attention to when you get home, so don’t sit too long in the car in front of the house at the end of your date.”

Another notable point of reference for the porch light was the Motel 6 advertisements from the 1980’s in which Tom Bodett said the famous line, "We'll leave the light on for you." Something about that statement exuded warmth and love. It said, “I care that you arrive safely.” Although I doubt that ad campaign packed the Motel 6 rooms, no one who heard Tom Bodett say those words will ever forget them.

But back to mom’s subtlety, front porch lights, and dating protocol. She would never say to me, “You better be home by 11 pm or else!” She would never even mention if I was a little late. She didn’t have to. She knew I knew a proper time to be home, and she knew I’d feel guilty if I was late. It was all so unspoken, and so silently effective, as were all the things my mom taught me over and over again, which pretty much sums up my mom. She was silently effective.

And then there was the time that my boyfriend and I were making out in the car in front of the house, and mom switched the porch light off and on twice. I still feel guilty about that time! How did she know that I was just about to do something I shouldn’t? Much to my boyfriend’s frustration she stopped me dead in my tracks with a simple blinking porch light!

So mom was right. Leave the front porch light on for those you love. It so sweetly and silently says, “I love you and care about you.”

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