“Dear…dear….What is your first name?”
Sailing down in the riverboat, African Queen, Rose Sayer was desperate to know. For quite to her surprise, Rose (played by Kate Hepburn) had fallen in love with the “gin-swilling riverboat captain” Mr. Allnut (played by Humphrey Bogart) before knowing his first name. It was a novel place for the straight-laced, old-maid, African missionary Rose to find herself in.
Released right after Mom graduated high school, The African Queen was filmed on location in the Congo. Never a big movie fan, but always a sucker for a good romance, Mom loved this movie. We watched it together on our old black and white television set in the early sixties, when I was 7 or 8. And last Monday, I watched it a second time in color — when my husband and I went on a double date with Bryan and Amy — in the comfort of our own living room.
Double dates were popular back when my parents were first dating. Whether my parents first date was a double date I don’t know. But what I do know is that my parent’s first date was a blind date and that the lady responsible for setting it up was my mother’s friend Rosie. Until last week, I didn’t know Rosie’s last name.
Dear…dear…What is your last name?
I was desperate to know. You see, I was finally sitting down to the put-off business of acknowledging formal expressions of condolence on Daddy’s passing, while his death could still be counted in weeks rather than months. And Rosie had taken the time to send a flower to the funeral home in memory of Daddy.
Given Rosie’s importance to my own life, it’s ironic that I’ve only two memories of Rosie. The first was made when I was 5 or 6. Rosie found me in typical form, crouched down in the dirt, playing in front of our house. Rosie caught me lost in a world of make-believe as I caught her walking up our drive-way.
With a child’s bold curiosity, I asked Rosie who she was and how she had come since she had not arrived by car. She told me her name was Rosie. Then she told me she was my mother’s good friend. And though this was BIG news — for I didn’t know my mother had any good friends — this news paled when Rosie told me she had flown rather than drove. It strikes me that if Rosie had driven a car that day, I wouldn’t have remembered meeting her. But because she had flown like a bird, I remembered her forever.
The second time I met Rosie was at my mother’s funeral. It was then that Rosie told me of her part in getting my parents together. I will be forever grateful that Rosie shared her memory, for by doing so, Rosie offered me that rare glimpse into my parents past, a more carefree time before the onset of children and mortgages.
After I finished Rosie’s note, my Aunt Jane mentioned that Rosie had also sent a nice card to Mom’s funeral. Jane recalls Rosie writing that Mother had been her best friend. I learned from my Aunt Jo that Rosie, Mom and Aunt Jo knew each other from the early fifties, when the three worked together at S.H. Kress & Co. So not only did Aunt Jo help me find Rosie’s last name, I found out that Mom and Dad met at Aunt Jo’s house and that Daddy was responsible for introducing Rosie to her husband, who died this past January.
It amazes me how people come in and out of our lives, especially when the connections are brief but carry such everlasting impact. I don’t imagine Mom would have been an ‘old-maid’ without Rosie’s help. But I sure wouldn’t have been a maid without her.