I was in the back seat of our ol’ Rambler when my folks and I first heard the news come across the radio. Strangest thing about it was that at the very same time a chicken hawk flew straight into our windshield, shattering it and practically causing my pa to crash into a big, thick oak tree.
When I think of that moment, an odd feeling overcomes me. Like how the radio station began playing “I Fall to Pieces,” as if to overdramatize the bird’s demise. This actually happened on March 5th of 1963, the day that singer Patsy Cline was killed in a plane crash. It seems like it was yesterday. I don ‘t know how hurt pa was about Patsy getting killed, but I know it hurt my ma real bad. Because of it, my ma committed suicide one week later on March 12th. My ma truly believed that she and my pa met because of Patsy Cline songs. Subsequently, she swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills following Patsy’s death and died in our bathtub. That night, when my pa awoke from his sleep, he noticed my ma was missing. He took a walk to go and look for her. When he came back, the song “Walkin ‘ After Midnight” was playing on the record player. My ma planned it that way, leaving it on replay because it was the song that was most popular at the time when they met.
It was just before 2 o’ clock in the morning when pa called the police, after finding my ma’s body in the bathtub. Most of the people in my pa’s family thought my ma, whose real name was Suzanne Moore, was just plain out of her mind. My pa rejected that idea and would become exceptionally angry when anyone brought it up.
"Walkin’ After Midnight" came out in 1957, the year I was born. My ma would take long walks with me after midnight, and I was just a bundle in her arms. Nobody in the neighborhood condoned the idea. They called my ma the “crazy lady with the baby.” She was basically avoided by most of our neighbors. I think for that reason, the song “Crazy,” one of Patsy’s biggest hits, was my ma’s favorite song. Ma knew what people thought and said about her, but she’d just sway her hand whenever it was mentioned. I remember her once replying, “As long as my husband, Ray, is alive, I’ll always be crazy in love.” Even to this day, as I am very much older, I can remember what happened after my ma was buried.
My pa and I were with my grandparents and some other relatives when suddenly the lights began to flicker. It was a weird sensation, especially what with all we had just been through. There was a loud clap of thunder and then outside there began a heavy downpour of rain.
The radio was on and it began to crackle and got all static-sounding. Then, I swear on a stack of bibles, the song, “Crazy,” began to play louder than ever. It was almost as if it was being bestowed upon us, because everyone knew how my ma felt about Patsy Cline. The radio wouldn’t shut off nor would the volume go down, even though the knobs were being turned by my pa. He even tried to change the station, but it was stuck.
Outside, it seemed as if the storm grew more tumultuous, the thunder became more frequent, and the rain and wind increased in intensity. Then, the impossible happened. The song was blaring and my pa pulled the plug as if to end its life. Nothing happened, except the song kept playing and became even louder. Everyone in the house was aghast. I knew in my heart that something supernatural was happening. I think me and my pa exchanged glances abruptly as the song ended and the radio finally went dead. The storm was still violent outside, and the house began to shake after a bolt of lightning hit and split a tree out in the front yard. The biggest branch of the tree fell right into the windshield of our Rambler. Everyone saw it. The Rambler had just been repaired following the incident when the chicken hawk flew in to it. Everyone looked at my pa as he threw his arms up in disgust.
Soon the rain began to soften and the storm died down. The room grew silent and still. My pa looked down at me shaking his head and said, “Your ma always did have a sense of humor, boy.”
“She sure did, Pa,” I replied. That was the first and the last time I ever saw my pa cry.