Mama Teaches a Lesson As She Learns One
Mama was trying to improve herself. Again. It was public speaking this time.
The year before, it had been leather work. She made, among other objects, a large handbag, tooled with such interesting designs that you hardly noticed the smell, at first. She said the smell would fade, and the bag would last a lifetime.
She was right about the "lasting" part. Every now and then we would open a little-used drawer and know, immediately, without looking, that Mama's old leather-worked handbag was hidden there.
There had been other notable efforts at self-improvement, the results of which were scattered throughout the house.
We all applauded her announcement that she had enrolled in an adult-education class in public speaking that met at the high school. Public speaking leaves no material traces.
"But I don't know what to talk about," she moaned, a week before her first assignment was due. We were all in the living room that evening, reading. Mama held a notebook and a pencil, ready for suggestions. "I've led such a limited life. Married. Moved around a bit. Had five children. Who wants to hear about that?" She looked accusingly around the room.
Dad rustled his newspaper and continued reading. This was a discussion he didn't want to enter.
"Pick anything," suggested sister Jean. "Take a current event out of the newspaper. There's lots going on in the world right now that you could report on."
"We always have to tell about 'how I spent my summer vacation,' when school starts," ventured my kid brother, Eddie. "Why don't you talk about that?"