When she was single, between her marriages, my mother took my sister and me to Scandinavia and France. We stayed for part of the time at a hotel perched on a cliff above a beach. Meals were served at tables on the side of a dance floor, and one night there was an orchestra. My sister and I were supposed to be in bed, but we snuck down and watched from the stairs as my mother danced with two American servicemen. One would dance with her for a number, then the other would take his turn, back and forth. I remember seeing my mother, looking happy and flattered, even to my four-year-old-eye, hitching her skirt around between dances to get ready for the next round. A couple of days later, the hotel shook with the thunderous sound of planes flying low overhead. We ran outside, and a few minutes later the planes came again, two American jets buzzing the hotel, heading back to base. It was the two servicemen, pilots, saying hello and thank you and goodbye to my mother.

I recalled this story to my mother many years later. She said, “I don’t remember any such thing.” How could she possibly not remember a story like that? How could I possibly have made it up?

Kelly Nowels