Have you ever been hit by a BIG wave while wading in the ocean? It's kind of scary, and kind of exhilarating, and at the very least, it will knock you on your ass. Well, that's what happened to me today, but I wasn't in the ocean. I was standing on my mother's front porch in the late afternoon; my mom was sitting in a lawn chair talking to me; I was kind of listening and kind of not, mostly I was thinking about blowing off going to the gym, and just going home, taking off my bra, and eating leftover Halloween candy for supper in front of the TV. In the middle of that very long thought, I glanced down at her as she was looking up at me, and we locked eyes for two or three seconds while she was telling me what she wants for her birthday. In the amount of time it takes to draw a deep breath, she literally took my breath away. I don't know if it was a trick of the sunlight with the way she was looking up at me, but her eyes were a color of blue I've never seen before. Staring in her eyes felt like I had been hit by a wave ... a huge wave of tenderness.
That's the only word I can think of to describe the way my heart constricted when her eyes met mine, but I hesitate to use that word because it doesn't seem big enough, or descriptive enough, or powerful enough for what I was feeling. I wanted to hug her very, very tightly, but then I would have had to explain to her why I wanted to hug her very, very tightly, and I just don't think I could have explained it. How do you explain love? How do you explain the feeling you get when your children are babies, and you stare at them asleep in their crib, and then you put your hand on their back just to make sure they are breathing? How do you explain the feeling you get when you see your husband alive, and hooked up to machines after four hours of heart surgery? How do you explain the feeling you get when the people you care about most in the world are suffering, and there's not one thing you can do about it? There are no words.
Of course, my mom had no way of knowing what I was thinking. She had no idea I was having a moment, but in those few seconds we locked eyes I couldn't hear a thing, not her voice, not the birds singing, not the cars driving by, not the neighbor's dog barking, nothing but silence as time ticked by. And, that's the weird thing; it felt like time stood still in the moment even though I know that's not possible. In just those few frozen seconds, I could see our past and our future. I could see her caring for me when I was a child, and couldn't care for myself, and I could see me caring for her when she can no longer care for herself, just as she did for her mother.
My mother (who is known by many names: Janice, The Bad Influence, Onnie, Mom) is another year older today, November 5. She doesn't want a bottle of perfume, or a new blouse, or another picture frame, or a candle, or jewelry. If you can buy it with money, she doesn't want it. She wants the thing that no amount of money can buy. She wants peace of mind, and at her age I think she has earned it. I would buy it for her in a heartbeat, if I could. Please save me a lot of trouble, and tell me where I can find peace of mind. Do they sell it at Target? Is it available in a catalog or online? Surely, I can go to amazon.com and find it. Hell, I'll even pay for next-day shipping. Maybe, I'll even get lucky and hit a buy one, get one free sale. I'll buy her peace of mind, and get a little for myself at the same time. How great would that be? Does peace of mind come with a warranty? I sure hope so because that would give me great peace of mind. BAHAHAHA.
Oh, I'm cracking myself up. I hope she's laughing too. I suspect she is not because she was deadly serious when she told me that peace of mind is all she wants for her birthday. Mom, you know I'd give you peace of mind if I could. I can't, but I can give you my love, my friendship, my tenderness, my hugs, and my thanks for knocking me on my ass.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my first love, my mom.
Click on one of the pictures below to view the slide show.