That afternoon, it started snowing. Woo-hoo! Hopefully, school would be cancelled the next day. I was in the 10th grade that year and I had just gotten my learner's permit three months before. One of my best friends was already 16 and she had her license, so she would always ride with me so that I could drive. Back then, you just had to have someone that had their license in the car with you, it didn't matter how old they were.
My mom worked 3rd shift at the J. P. Stevens Elastic Plant in Stuart, Virginia. She supervised the training of new employees on how to run the huge looms. She was supposed to work that Sunday night from 11 PM to 7 AM the next morning, so she had went to bed in the afternoon. When she got up around 9:30 PM, there was already a lot of snow on the ground and the state trucks were plowing Route 58 in front of our house. I remember that my dad and I tried to convince mom to call into work that night rather than trying to drive down Lover's Leap Mountain to get to work. Nothing doing. My mom very seldom ever called into work and she instilled that same work ethic in me.
She left home a bit earlier than normal that night, around 10:00 PM, driving a 1979 Pinto station wagon for the 18 mile trip to work. Since I suspected that I would not have school the next day, I stayed up to watch "Trapper John, MD" which was one of my favorite television shows. It was on from 10-11 PM each Sunday night. Since my dad always went to bed early, I remember him fussing at me to turn off the television and go to bed.
Around 2:30 AM that morning, I heard someone banging on our front door. It scared me to death! I jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom and pulled the door to until there was just a crack that I could peek out of to see the front door. Dad went to the door and yelled "Who is it?" It was my mom's brother, Willie. That was really strange! My dad opened the door and I saw Willie standing on the snow covered porch with a Virginia state trooper.
All sorts of things went through my mind in those first few moments to try to grasp why they were there in the wee hours of the morning. When they came into the living room, I saw that Willie had my mom's purse. They then explained to us that my mom had made it all the way to the foot of Lover's Leap Mountain. She had made it through the last curve. But then in a straight stretch of road, for some inexplicable reason, her car went over the bank and went broadside into a tree on the driver's side door.
The police department got a call around 11:20 PM reporting that someone driving by glimpsed the red taillights of a car over the bank. She had been killed instantly. Whoever made the phone call reporting the accident did not give their name, nor did they wait until the police arrived. I will always wonder if perhaps the person that made the call was involved in the accident, because the location of mom's car would have made it very difficult to have seen anything, including the taillights.I will never know.
My mom had just turned 48 years old a couple of weeks before. She had been working at J.P. Stevens for over 25 years and was thinking about retiring soon. I am now 48 years old, almost 49. I cannot remember my mom's voice anymore. I wish that I would have had the chance to know my mom as a person and not just as a mom. I have to admit that I am very envious of my friends when I hear them talk about doing something or talking with their mothers.
It does not seem possible that 33 years have passed since that night. I still miss you, Mom!