Jessica smiled sympathetically and reached across the kitchen table. She took my hand and squeezed it, offering comfort and support.
“It’s been two weeks, Ken. It’s time to put her affairs in order.”
I nodded. It was.
“Would you like me to go with you?” she offered. “I can take time off work. The kids can look after themselves for a few days. Or I can get my sister to keep an eye on them.”
I squeezed my wife’s hand in gratitude. She was such a wonderful woman.
“No. Thank you. I think I want to do this alone.”
“It won’t be easy,” Jessica observed, her soft brown eyes sympathetic.
“It’s what I need,” I assured her.
“Okay. I’ll pack your bag,” she told me. “You book the flight.”
It was so Jessica. Discuss, decide, do. No fussing around. No second-guessing. And once the decision is made, give it her full support, no matter if she agrees or not. To her, dithering is a waste of time and energy. It was one of the many personality traits that made me love her like crazy, even after almost two decades.
I stood, bent, and kissed her. “Thanks, honey.”
Sixteen hours later I turned the rented Chevy into the unassuming drive of a moderate bungalow, one of many in the small residential development built back in the fifties.
I parked and climbed out. The scent of freshly mowed grass filled the air. It pleased me to see the lawn trimmed, taken care of. The gardening service I’d arranged for was doing what they’d been contracted to do; a rare occurrence in my experience.
I leaned on the Chevy roof, door still open, and looked down the street. Each house showed caring owners: yards neat and tidy; bungalows of different sizes, some with attached garages, some with carports; all homes a mix of brick and painted wooden siding, the colors of which provided most of the differentiation.
In my mind’s eye I saw the families that had lived here so long ago: the Kendrick’s with three kids, one, Jimmy, a friend I’d grown up with; the Farhavens and their daughter Betsy who’d been my first crush, blonde and blossoming; Mr. Larsen, the only widow on the street, kindly and always ready to fix my punctured bike tires; and Mr. and Mrs. Gerald in the bright red painted house, Mrs. Gerald young, pretty, and in the habit of getting her morning paper wearing risqué nightgowns, her hair in curlers.
Closing the Chevy door, I opened the back and grabbed my overnight case and headed up the drive. Two white columns supported a peaked overhang covering the porch. A white wicker chair sat empty to one side. Mom liked to sit out on it and watch life go by in the close-knit neighborhood.
Fishing in my pocket, I found the key ring and opened the white front door. Familiar scents washed over me when I stepped inside; furniture polish and perfume – Mom’s specter still haunting the house. A pile of mail littered the floor.
Closing the door, I paused. Not much had changed through the years. This was the home I’d grown up in. It was the home my mother and I shared, my father having passed away young from lung cancer. This was the house where I’d laughed with my mother, where we’d argued, where I’d been spanked at four years old for coloring on the walls in the hall.
I dropped the overnight case and wandered into the living room. Memories rushed back at the sight of familiar furniture carefully taken care of. The old television in the corner was the same, needing several minutes to warm up before I could watch Saturday morning cartoons; The Jetsons, Fred and Barney in the Flintstones, Mighty Mouse. The couch was the same – solid wood with floral upholstery, two matching armchairs, and a solid wood coffee table.
I remembered Mom being so proud of the new pale yellow wall-to-wall carpet and how well it went with the cream painted walls. She’d painted the wooden trim a matching yellow herself. And I remembered how soft the carpet felt on my bare feet in the mornings.
To the left, the mahogany dining table reflected light from sliding glass doors facing the back yard. Dust had collected on the surface. Mom wouldn’t have let that happen. In my mind’s eye, I saw her polishing it with Pledge, then adjusting the centerpiece, a porcelain spring flower basket.
Walking through the dining room, I studied framed photographs on the wall and side cabinet. There I was at three years old, in formal pants and shirt after Dad’s funeral, looking somber and holding Mom’s hand. Despite the sadness in her face, Mom was beautiful back then. Her black dress, black nylons, conservative black shoes, a small black hat with the veil up, and black gloves and handbag couldn’t hide her looks.
Next to it, in a fancy silver frame, Dad and Mom looked so young, radiantly happy newlyweds. She’d been so pretty at twenty-one, her life ahead of her, optimistic, in love. Dad, despite his serious expression, showed pride in his eyes. He’d landed a beautiful woman. She’d chosen him. It was in his stance, his chest out, standing tall and slender.
I pulled my cell phone out and dialed.
“Hi. It’s me. I just wanted you to know I’ve arrived.”
Jessica’s voice was soft. “How are you doing? Is it hard?”
“I’m okay. I feel like I’m a kid again. Everything I look at brings it back.” I paused for a moment, still looking at the photo of my parents. “This is going to be difficult. I’m not sure I want to get rid of things. It might take more than two days.”
“Take all the time you need, Ken. If you want, put everything in storage and we’ll deal with it together later, when it’s easier. Are you sure you don’t want help?”
“Yeah. I’ll be fine. So little has changed. It’s a walk down memory lane.”
“Well, call me if you need to talk. Don’t get too sad, honey.”
“I won’t. Talk to you tonight. Love you.”
I hung up and entered the kitchen. White cupboards, thick with paint, framed the kitchen window, curtains pulled to the sides. The tap at the sink dripped slowly. The speckled Formica counter was uncluttered, unlike when I’d been young. Back then, Mom always had something cooking or baking, providing for two. I wondered if she felt lonely after I married and moved away. She claimed not, but I didn’t believe her.
Two porcelain jars with pretty painted daisies held kitchen spoons, spatulas, and other implements. The electric stove was olive green, matching the old Frigidaire refrigerator and an electric Kenwood mixer on the counter. In my mind, I could hear that mixer running, my excitement at Mom baking a chocolate Devil’s food cake. I could see Mom, well dressed even when cooking, with her apron on, flouring two pans, and baking chocolate, powdered sugar, butter and a bottle of vanilla on the counter waiting for icing to be made, a double boiler on the stove warming to melt the butter and semi-sweet chocolate squares.
I smelled it now; the aroma of cake baking in the oven.
Moving to the small, chrome and Formica kitchen table, I pulled out a chair and sat exactly where I used to as a kid. I heard Mom chatting away, asking me about school and friends while pouring batter into pans. And I saw her smile at me, her blue eyes bright, blonde hair pulled back at the nape of her neck, her flowery apron.
She brought the bowl and spatula over. “You can clean the bowl, but promise you’ll eat all your dinner.”
I could taste the chocolately batter and feel it smear on my cheeks, my excitement that the next bowl to be licked clean would be icing – my favorite.
Gingham curtains framed the kitchen window, the one Mom used to watch out through as she washed dishes, keeping an eye on me and my friends as we built cardboard forts and conducted an intense war, toy cap guns popping. It made me smile.
Standing up, I wandered into the hall, studying more framed photographs intermingled with framed prints of daisies and roses. Mom always loved spring flowers, telling me it reminded her of new life and happiness and possibilities.
To my left, I pushed the bathroom door open and glanced in. The smell of floral soap hit me. The pale pink bathtub, sink, and toilet hadn’t changed. Nor had the matching shag pile bath and toilet mats.
I moved on. My bedroom door stood open. I glanced in. There was nothing of me left except the bed, desk and dresser. But I could picture the disorganized mess I’d live with, posters, model airplanes on the dresser and a partially complete one on the plain oak wood desk. I could see clothes strewn on the floor, my bed unmade. Smiling, I remembered the stash of Playboys I’d thought well hidden from Mom under the mattress; the well thumbed magazines Jimmy had discovered in Mr. Larsen’s garbage can and shared with me. I remembered fondly the excitement I’d experienced seeing my first naked woman, their breasts and full pubic bushes, and how I’d discovered the joy of masturbating – the start of my adolescent journey.
It was several years later when Mom told me she’d found the Playboys and left them there, happy enough to know I was a normal teen. It was a telling sign of Mom’s attitude towards sex.
As I approached the master bedroom, memories intensified. The door was ajar. I pushed it open and her scent hit me; perfume – Chanel No. 5 – and facial powders.
The textured chenille bedcover was immaculate, light green and white with small pink roses, the hem touching the floor. Pale cream carpeting covered the floor. To one side was a small bench chair and table, oval mirror on top. Small jars of face cream jostled for space with perfume bottles, facial powders, lipstick and eyeliner and mascara, hair pins and rollers, brushes and combs. It had always been the most disorganized spot in the house. I knew the two drawers on either side held even more makeup. Mom had been careful about her appearance, even if it was only a trip to the grocery store. Back then, that’s how it was; smart skirts, nylons, blouses, high heels and hair coifed before any appearance in public.
A wide dresser on the left, below the window, was neat. More framed photographs were arranged on top. I stepped over to it and studied them: me at thirteen astride my bicycle, grinning with pleasure at Mom’s birthday gift to me, shorts and unlaced sneakers and red football jersey, my hair unruly; me at fifteen, a football under one arm, Jimmy making a face next to me; me at eighteen, dressed in a suit, carnation in the collar, with Betsy in a frilly blue prom dress, her arm through mine. Was I ever that young?
I saw photos of Jessica and me at our wedding, baby photos of my daughter, Lilly, and younger son, Carl, named after my father. Mom had added photos I’d sent to her of birthdays and Christmases – my life she was so proud of.
I missed her. I ached with loss. It felt so lonely to see this. But Mom had refused to move. She’d refused to impose on Jessica and me. She’d insisted I had a life to live and she was quite happy being alone, reminding me she had a large circle of friends to keep her busy. She was too self sufficient to consider a retirement condo. Too young, too, at sixty-seven.
I picked up one framed photo and sat on her bed. It was my favorite and I’d taken it. I’d taken it in fun. I was sixteen. We’d barbecued hamburgers, the summer weather warm enough for me to wear shorts and nothing else. The camera was new at the time, with a nifty time delay feature – a small spring-loaded dial.
It was one of the rare times Mom wore a bikini and I’d joked, asking her to pose. She had, one of those alluring poses, one hand on a cocked hip, knee bent in, and facing the camera slightly sideways, her arm around my waist. I was in tight swimming trunks, tall and lanky, grinning like a fool. Mom’s bikini was chaste by today’s standards, the bra top providing full coverage of her bust, the bottoms conservative. Small frills edged the yellow and white bikini. Back then, her bikini was considered racy by neighborhood standards, amusing Mom. Back then, I’d considered it sexy.
Mom must have been thirty-seven or -eight, in the prime of her life, her body full of sensual curves, waist narrow. She wasn’t plump or thin, just normal, a classic, well maintained female of the era. Through the eyes of time, I could appreciate how beautiful she was.
I missed her. I missed her as she was then and as she was later in life, a woman of strength, compassion, and endless love who steered me through my teens and into my adult life, despite myself. I was me because of her and no one else.
Sighing, I stood and replaced the photograph on the dresser. Then I opened the top right drawer.
Memories came rushing back, sharp and powerful. I knew what was in this drawer – my puberty, my sexual awareness, my formative adolescence, and sexual tastes that had stayed with me all my life.
In the drawer, I studied my mother’s intimates, her lingerie, and I knew them all. Brushing them with my fingers, I saw a powder blue pair of panties, full cut – what everyone now calls granny panties. I lifted the soft, thin cotton panties out, and remembered the first time I saw them.
Fourteen years old.
I’d yelled out, asking Mom where my favorite jeans were. Her muffled reply was unintelligible, so I went to her bedroom. The door was ajar. Mom was at her dresser, buttoning a cream blouse, and I stopped.
It was the first time I saw Mom as a female, like the girls in those Playboys. Standing in the hall, peeking in, wearing a T-shirt, socks and underwear, I studied her. She stood side on. The cotton panties weren’t the stretchy type of today. They were looser, full cut with thin elastic. They draped over her rear giving shape to her ass, lovely swells. She moved and I saw the front. An erection slowly formed as I admired how her lower stomach curved slightly and, making me hold my breath, I saw the shadow of her dark brown pubic bush, how it filled her crotch and shaped those cotton panties hinting at fullness, dense, erotic. Elastic leg bands disappeared at her crotch and her pussy pressed against the soft cotton where it tapered to between her thighs, the double gusset round, full.
When she turned away, opened a lower drawer and bent, powder blue cotton stretched on her pear-shaped ass and I saw cotton dip along her butt crack.
Mom transformed into a sensual female in that moment; real, with breasts and pubes. She became much more than a mother – an erotic fantasy.
Now hard, I retreated to my bedroom, closed the door, tugged my underwear down to release my erection, and masturbated, eyes closed and replaying the exciting sight of Mom in panties. I came fast, spurting cum onto the carpet, pleasure washing through me as I stroked myself. That first time, guilt hit me. Ashamed, I cleaned up and grabbed yesterday’s jeans.
Smiling at the memory of that first time, I put Mom’s powder blue panties back in the drawer. Later that morning, I hadn’t been able to look Mom in the eyes, too embarrassed. It didn’t last long. By the afternoon I found myself studying the shape of her in a pleated mid-calf skirt and blouse, wondering how big her breasts were while I studied them. It was the first time I wanted to peek up her skirt and see her panties, and I was horny again.
Another memory popped up and I smiled to myself. Brushing through her panty drawer, I found the white pair. They were full-cut again, but soft rayon tricot. Pulling them out, I rubbed them in my hand and felt a familiar stir of arousal.
Between that first sight of Mom and Playboy magazines, I’d been constantly horny, except when playing outdoors. Life back then was conducted outside, exploring, playing with friends, taking long, long bike rides, stopping at the ice cream shop for a pre-dinner treat, flirting with girls. Television was an evening affair, watched in moderation, Mom refusing to let me overdose on it.
It was one day when Mom was out shopping that I explored her bedroom, a previously ignored room of the house. It was the first time I discovered her panty drawer and the cornucopia of sensual underwear; her bras and girdles, her silk stockings and pantyhose, and interesting me, some rather risqué teddies. In Mom’s dresser I discovered a woman who was sexual, not my mother, but more.
And that formative day I found this pair of white rayon tricot panties in the wicker laundry basket, casually tossed in. Excitement mounted. Mom had worn these slinky panties! They’d pressed against her pussy!
Excited, now erect, I’d reached in and touched them, then pulled them out, held them up to admire them and, erection straining in my jeans, I’d inspected the inside gusset and saw a single, short, brown pubic hair. It had fueled my excitement.
Almost mindlessly, I’d brought the gusset to my nose and sniffed. Nothing. It didn’t matter. Those full-cut nylon tricot panties felt like pure silk in my hand, slippery and soft. I took them with me to my room, closed the door and, horny as hell, opened my jeans and shoved them down, pulled the front of my underwear down, my cock springing free. That first touch of silky panties on my cock sent waves of pleasure through me. My cock was touching an intimate part of Mom and it thrilled me. And then I stroked my erection, her panties wrapped around my erection, slipping and sliding sensually, slightly cool . . . my mother’s panties. A few wonderful strokes and I came explosively, semen spurting, pleasure hitting me with each aching spurt. When my orgasm passed, I saw with horror some of my milky semen had stained her panties.
Tugging my underwear and jeans up, I hurried to the bathroom and washed the stain off. In her bedroom, I shoved her damp panties to the bottom of the laundry basket, hoping they’d dry before laundry day.
The memory made me chuckle. It wasn’t until years later that Mom let me know she’d found them still damp and suspected why.
Rubbing those panties between my fingers, I felt that long ago excitement again; the first exploration of something forbidden and erotic. And I became partially erect. Forty-five years old and they still had an impact on me.
Returning them to the drawer, I closed it before temptation distracted me. I moved to her closet, opened it and studied her dresses, blouses and skirts. Even as she aged, Mom insisted on being well presented, her clothes carefully bought and meticulously cared for.
With a sigh, I closed the closet and left. It was time to buy packing boxes.