A hot air balloon floated over the yard of the house I grew up in one warm summer afternoon. Mom and I were reading on the front porch swing. I was deep into Henry Miller’s The Tropic of Cancer; Mom had her beloved Minneapolis Tribune when her voice broke the silence.
“Look!” she said with so much excitement.
“Yeah, whatever,” I said, unwilling to pull away from a particularly zesty section of Miller’s book.
“No! Really! Look!” Reluctantly I followed her finger.
Probably no more than 40 feet above our heads was a hot air balloon, so close that when she hollered “Hi, there,” the fellow in the basket waved back and said, “Hi to you, too! Isn’t this a remarkable day?”
That’s all I remember. Well…not quite. There was this curious statement, whispered reverently by Mom: “I’ve always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon.”
A few years later I brought this ornament to her house from a St. Paul gift shop and hung it on her tree in a dominant spot, tickled when she spotted it. We talked about that wish of hers.
Those memories came flooding back a few laters when I found Hot Air Santa among her holiday decorations as my husband, my brother, his wife and I cleaned out her house a couple of weeks after she died.
To this day, I wish I had gifted her with a balloon ride. And to this day, I wonder if she really would have gone up.