My Mother lived with me in the 1940’s in the village of Pacheco, California. She often went to San Jose by bus to visit another daughter, and on these occasions we planned that I would pick her up at the Greyhound bus station in Concord, two miles away, when she returned.Her only delay was a two-hour wait in Oakland to change buses.
She made the trip often, always returning well and happy. One Saturday that Mother was due in Concord at four o’clock in the afternoon was a busy day for me, a school-teacher, and about one o’clock I was ironing when I heard my father’s voice: “Mabel, go get your mother.” How could that be? I thought. I knew my father’s voice instantly- although he had been dead for more than five years. “Stop dreaming and get on with your chores,” I told myself.
My father’s voice came again, this time with great emphasis and unmistakable urgency: ” Mabel, go get your mother!”
Something was wrong somewhere- no doubt of that. I could not disobey his insistent command. I disconnected the iron and ran into the living room where a young visiting nephew was painting. “Lane,” I said, “we have to go to Oakland and we have to hurry.”
It was only early afternoon. I knew right away I must go to Oakland. Mother’s bus wouldn’t reach Concord until four.
When we arrived at the bus station, the San Jose to Oakland bus was pulling in, Mother, the first passenger off, wore a happy smile and looked around the station as if expecting someone to meet her. When she saw me through the glass door, her smile faded. As we embraced she said in disappointed tone, “A nice man was going to meet me- but he said if anyone else met me, he wouldn’t show up.”
I had a hunch that my father’s urgent command had forestalled real tragedy. Ushering Mother into the waiting room, I said, “Tell me all about this.”
“Well, I met him a few days ago. He said we would be married right away, then leave at once for Florida where he had a beautiful estate.”
I interrupted: “Mother, did you tell him you owned some property?”
“Yes,” she admitted in some confusion. “We will wait a few minutes longer, then go home.” I said.
Her instant lover did appear so we picked up lane at the newsstand and went home. We never referred to this incident again, but I often saw Mother looking out a window as if she expected someone to come.
Three months later, the newspapers carried an account of a man who enticed elderly women into marriage with promises of a beautiful estate in Florida. He had been jailed for murder, for poisoning those would -be wives on the way south. The man’s picture appeared in the paper and I showed it to Mother, asking, “Mother, is this the man?”
shocked into tears, she answered, “Yes.”
Irene Mabel mcDonald