The yellow glow of neon lights were visible long before the outline of the building could be made out. I peered into the darkness and wondered at my daring.
Here I was fresh out of high school, traveling alone and praying that my mother would be glad to see me. She was supposed to be at my graduation two days ago, but she never showed, and there had been no word.
Gram warned me not to get my hopes up. “The night you were born your momma placed you in my arms saying she would be back to get you as soon as she became a famous singer. Oh, she was a fine one. Full of dreams. I begged her not to go, not to leave you. I guess her dreams didn’t get her far enough ‘cause she never came back.”
We received a handful of letters over the years. Each one from a different town, each one saying her next gig would be the one to launch her to stardom. Gram said Momma had a beautiful voice but that wasn’t enough. She said you also had to get the breaks and those breaks came around only once in a blue moon.
I did not care if Momma ever became a famous singer. I loved her. I wanted to meet her. I wanted to be with her. So I decided if she would not come to me then I would go to her.
Funny thing about Gram using that phrase, ‘once in a blue moon’. The return address on Momma’s last letter read: “Larelle Rogers, Once In A Blue Moon Lounge, Sentinel Mountain, Nevada”. According to the directions that old man gave me a few miles back, the glowing blob of light up ahead was my destination.
I prayed Momma would be happy to see me. I wondered if she would know me. Would she take me in her arms and hold me? I surely hoped so for I had waited my whole life to feel my mother’s arms around me.
Time stood still. Each of the 300 miles I traveled was longer than the last. But finally my long drive was at an end. The lounge looked small, alone, and abandoned. What was going on here?
At first I stood mesmerized by the flashing neon. Finally I took a deep breath and stepped into a large, dimly lit room filled with empty tables. A lone man sat at the bar. He watched me approach. “Let me guess - you’re Lily.”
“Yes, I am but how did you know?”
He dropped his head. “You look just like your mother.”
“Where is she? Is she here? I want to see her!”
He nodded, stood, and motioned for me to follow him. He led me down a hallway and into a small candle-lit apartment where I saw my beautiful mother for the first and last time. She was laid out in a soft blue casket.
My knees gave way. The man caught me and led me back to the lounge. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
“What happened?” I croaked.
Tears ran down his face as he told me how after years of one night stands and traveling all over the southwest he and my mother married and bought the “Once In A Blue Moon Lounge”. She was the featured singer. Gradually, they built up a loyal clientele and the lounge had become a popular night spot for folks wanting to get away from the bustle of town to enjoy the desert evening.
He said finally after all these years a major record label had just signed Larelle to a recording contract. She was to open in Vegas in two weeks. “More than anything, Lily, she wanted you to share in her rise to fame. She was on her way to get you when a drunk driver crossed the median and hit her head on. She died at the scene.”
That all happened nearly twenty years ago. I will never get over losing my mother just when I had found her. But my consolation is that I fulfilled her dream with one important variation. My mother wanted to be a pop star but I sang for the Lord. You know me as Lily Larelle Rogers - gospel singer, song writer, and owner of the “Once In A Blue Moon Christian Cafe.”
Thanks Momma. I owe it all to you.
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