It was only an hour each weekday. After school. I’d get off the bus at around 3:30pm and wait. Two picture windows faced our driveway. Some days, I could be distracted by The Brady Bunch, but the majority of those 60 minutes before my mom came home from work was spent waiting against those windows.
They taught us at Washington Elementary not to touch the glass windows that lined our classroom, because it was the janitor who would have to clean the windows dailly. And we didn’t want to make his job harder, did we? But seeing how it was my job to clean the windows at home each Thursday afternoon with newspaper and Windex, I wasn’t that concerned. I fogged the glass with my breath. Drew smiley faces. Smeared them away. Blew again. Then sad faces. Erased and blew. Challenged myself to tic-tac-toe. Continuously smearing cheek and fingers across the glass. Waiting. And waiting.
The gravel road always gave sufficient warning. The sound of the tires popping at 4:37pm would tell me that my mom was about to arrive. I’d hoist my top above my waist and wipe the window. Race to the garage entry. Fling the door. And I was saved.
She never mentioned it — the streaked glass. But of course she must have known. It wasn’t like my t-shirt wipe gave a proper cleaning. But that’s who she was — the person who allowed me to be me. Never made fun of my silly antics. She saw me. And loved me.
I smiled each Thursday afternoon as I took last week’s Echo and wiped it across the pane. It sparkled clean along with my heart. A fresh start. All waiting’s worries were washed away.
I see it now. So clearly. I thought she was saving me, daily, and she did, but even more importantly, she gave me the ability to save myself. A gift I continue to use. I smile out my morning window, and I am saved.