Mom

I wrote this in April. Within a few months of the post, my mom suffered a stroke. Things are so different in our lives now.

***

Mom

I’ve been visiting the home I grew up in recently. It’s been a few years since I’ve done so.

I don’t really recognize the place anymore. The stairs aren’t as steep as mine and the walls in my old room have been painted over.

It’s been interesting to explore my past, to see the items that were once on display in my old room relegated to a few boxes and bags under the stairs.

I found some of my jewelry of mine in the bathroom that an ex-boyfriend and I painted yellow. My first earring (yes I only got one pierced to begin with,) and a silver bracelet that my mom bought me for my 19th birthday.

I decided to ask my mom if she had any of my other jewelry. I don’t have the heart to tell her I can’t find my grad ring so I was hoping that she’s been storing it all this time.

“I don’t know what jewelry of yours I’d have, but I can check,” she said.

I was at her house on Easter Sunday and stood in the kitchen of the house I grew up in. Peeling potatoes and catching up with my sister, while her 8 year old son Hunter laid on the sofa watching television.

I’ve come full circle. With so many of my aunts and uncles gone, I’m now officially the uncle. I’m the one who comes to visit and spend a little time with the kids before going off into the world again.

My mom got home at 2 p.m. & we chatted about her day at work. My mom is one of the funnier people in my life. She’s my own personal Betty White, preferring to be clean but knowing full well that an inappropriate comment from her will inspire “ewws” and “MOTHER!!”while she relishes the attention.

I am my mother’s son.

She told me that she found some my jewelry and my silver dollars. I didn’t want them, I just that I wanted to know if she had them.

“You can take them if you like, or I can hold on to them.. well until the day you’ll have to take them,” she said.

My mom is 67 years old and believe me that I’m at the age where I’m worried about her. When she said, “until you have to take them,” my thoughts went to mortality…the fragility of it all.

We stood there by the washing machine for a moment and she told me some bittersweet news.

“I’ve told Jen and Chris that I want you to have my wishbone earrings.”

They are my mother’s favourite pair of earrings, perhaps her most cherished item. Little golden wishbones with a diamond on each one.  She’s lost one of them for short periods of time, but its always turned up.

The shag carpet crisis of the early 90’s sticks out in my mind, but the crisis was averted after some close inspection.

After hearing the news I told her I didn’t want to know.

“No, no, no mom,” I said “I can’t hear this right now.”

Her eyes filled with tears and so did mine.

I asked her if she was sick or was there something I should know.

“No, I’m not sick…”

We just stood there for a moment.

“I love you very much momma.”

She told me how she waited for so long for the earrings to go on sale at Woodward’s department store.

“I’m cheap!” she said laughing.

It was good to laugh after our little moment.

We moved to the backyard and chatted about the future, where I’m going and what I want to do. I told her of a job I’m hoping to get in Saskatchewan.

As we talked she reached for her pack of cigarettes and I noticed the tape covering the pictures.

“It’s of someone who had a stroke I think,” said my mom. I wish she’d just quit already.

I went for a drive while Jen and my mom finished preparing dinner. I went by each of the other three houses I spent time in as a child. They’ve been repainted and renovated. The landscaping is different and all of the neighbours have long since moved away. Like my old bedroom, all I have is my memories.

I’ve not sat down at my mom’s house for a holiday dinner for 3-4 years.

The food was delicious but this dinner was different from others I’d attended in the past.

My mom and I sat at the table and ate while Jen attended to Hunter, who has been sick. Lilah and her friend Amy went to Lilah’s bedroom and watched a movie while eating their dinner. My brother in law Darcy helped Jen with Hunter.

My brother Mike is in California and Chris is in Edmonton, so it felt like it was just the two of us.

As I was dropped off after dinner I asked my mom again if she was ill.

“I’m tough, I can handle it.” (yeah right.)

“No, I’m not sick!”

Before I went to bed I was watching a program on Discovery about seals. How the mother and baby must bond quickly if the baby is to survive.

During a scuffle on the beach a baby is separated from his mother. He sits on the beach calling out for her and soon is rescued.

It seemed metaphoric.

I think returning to the house I grew up in was very cathartic. I know time waits for no one and while sometimes you’re the salmon swimming against the river to return home, other times you have be a tuna and go with the current (thanks Seinfeld!)

After graduation I am going to allow myself to be caught in the current and let it take me where it will.

I’m not the seal pup on the beach calling for his mother anymore.

I hope I don’t “have to take” my jewelry from my mom for decades. She’s such a special person and even the thought of losing her makes me ill.

I was so touched to hear that she wants me to have something of hers that has meant so much to her. She’s considered the wishbone earrings to be good luck because no matter how many times they’ve gone astray, they’ve always found their way home.

And like the earrings being good luck, a part of me hopes my mom has considered me good luck. The child a doctor warned her not to have because she might have died. The son that clung to her like glue as a child. The son who would sleep at the foot of her bed because he was afraid of the dark. The son that accompanied her while she looked for her other children in the middle of the night. The son that spent three days on a bus to be home with her when she was sick.

When I am feeling low, I think about my mom. I think about the life she’s had and what she’s been through and her strength helps me through tough times.

On the sad sad day when I actually call for my mother and she doesn’t come to rescue me, I’ll take comfort in knowing that I’ll always have something of hers that she cherished.

I hope all of my hair is gray when that happens and just to be safe, I’m going to buy some dye.

If you’re reading this… I want you to tell your parents that you love them.

I love you momma.

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