I found myself growing unusually tired as I made my way up the road. The grade was much steeper than it had first appeared, and the hot sun wasn’t helping matters any. I stopped for a moment to catch my breath and wipe the sweat from my face. I eyed the road ahead. The bend, which was still a ways off, had looked much closer from the pepper tree. Suddenly the singing stopped. I strained to hear the song but there was only silence. After a few minutes I was nearly convinced that the song had all been in my head and was considering turning back, when the singing began again. I rested awhile longer, then continued on my way.
Soon I rounded the bend and was surprised to find that the paved road abruptly ended. A narrow, but well worn foot path took its place and continued southeast about 50 yards, then disappeared into a grove of oak trees. The song was more audible now, and coming from somewhere within the trees. I recognized the familiar lyrics at once. It was an old Doris Day number called ‘Secret Love’. I’d heard my mother sing it many times, but never had it sounded so haunting, so enchanting. I took a deep breath and followed the path into the trees, anxious to see what lie ahead.
The grove was much larger than it had appeared from the outside. The trees were old and gnarled, their branches intertwined, and dense with foliage that blocked out the sun. I followed the shaded path for what seemed like hours before seeing light ahead in the distance. I picked up my pace and headed towards the light. As I got closer I could hear not only ‘Secret Love” but other familiar sounds as well, the tinkling of glass and silver, laughter and the soft murmurs of people engaged in conversation. What I saw when I came out on the other side completely blew me away! I found myself standing on the south edge of a grassy glade perhaps half the size of a football field, completely encircled by giant oaks. Near the north end of the clearing stood an enormous white pavilion, like those used for garden weddings or other festivities. Beneath it sat scores of people, talking, laughing and carrying on. It was astonishing! I thought that maybe I’d stumbled onto someone’s private wedding reception.
At the center of the pavilion stood a magnificently ornate marble fountain, perhaps fifteen feet tall! Crystal, blue water spilled freely from the vases of three winged cherubs that seemed to be floating near the crown of the fountain. Amazingly, water cascaded soundlessly from tier to tier into a large pool at the base. A few feet to the right of the fountain was an enormous sculpture of a stately lion. Though its pose was a peaceful one, it looked as though it were there as protector or guardian. Its face solemn and thoughtful, its mane wild and unkept. I was immediately reminded of the noble lion Aslan from C.S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia.” I couldn’t pull my eyes away it was all so beautiful.
The spell was soon broken, when “Secret Love” ended and the guests began to applaud. A few moments later a new song began. “We Belong Together,” the same song I’d heard on the VW’s radio earlier. Coincidence? I think not. I began searching for the singer and found her standing near a large floral arrangement, not far from the lion. I stood there transfixed. She wore a white, full length gown and had a tiara in her hair. She was radiant! I couldn’t believe my eyes, for as impossible as it was, the singer was indeed my mother!
I was stunned! I stood there unable to move, watching her as she moved gracefully among the guests delivering her song. She looked so beautiful. Overcome by emotion, I began to cry. I was confused and for just a moment considered leaving, but when I turned around there was no longer a path behind me, there were only trees. I realized there was no turning back….
To be continued Wednesday June 15, 2011