From our back porch, my mom’s voice echoed thru the warm darkness, calling me home. I was 12 years old. It was one of those perfect long summer evenings that had turned into a warm summer night, and all the kids in the neighborhood who were approximately my age had been outside playing for hours.
I was a few backyards away when I heard the calls. I headed for home. As I approached the corner of our backyard, I could make out the silhouettes of three or four kids gathered together.
“Better get yourself home, Davey.” I recognized the voice as belonging to the neighborhood smart-ass. In the dark, I didn’t recognize the shapes or the voices of the snickering that came from the other silhouettes. I kept walking.
By now I was in our backyard. In the yellow glow of the back porch light, I could see my mom, standing in the open doorway.
“There you are,” she said, as I passed her and entered the house.
“Don’t you ever,” I said as she shut the door, “call me Davey again.”
I glanced at her, standing in the back hallway with her mouth hanging open, just long enough to register the shocked hurt on her face.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
I instantly felt sorry, too, but I didn’t say it. I was still too humiliated from the shadowy snickers I’d heard in the dark. But I could read the bewildered disappointment on my mom’s face, and I recognized that while she felt bad about embarrassing me, she felt even worse about losing her Davey.
I knew with twelve year old certainty that I had forever outgrown the name. After all, my mom was the only one still using it. However, there was a part of me that wasn’t quite ready to let go of Davey, either.
But we did let go. After that night, my mom obeyed my order and never referred to me as Davey again. I was Dave now. Davey was dead and buried; a distant memory.
One afternoon, a couple of years later, I asked my mom what we were having for supper.
“Liver and onions,” she replied, knowing my distaste of the dish.
“You’ll never make mother of the year,” I told her.
She laughed, and I’m confident that we both knew the truth, that she was the best mom her Davey could have ever asked for.