Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mother and Child reunion

I just got back from 2 weeks “back home”. I have been used to where I live for 19 years now. I went home to a town of about 150 people if you count all the pets and people that are home for a long weekend. I had forgotten the different kind of life you live in a small town. Everything moves at a much slower pace. Rush hour traffic means there is a tractor and 2 cars on Main Street at the same time. By the end of the first evening we had just finished watching the 10 o’clock news and my mom decided she was going to bed. The living room is off her bedroom and as I couldn’t watch TV, I too went upstairs to bed. There was no cell service there. There was no high speed internet in the area let alone dial up or even a computer. The x-ray machine at the airport for some reason had erased all my data in my PDA so I had lost all my phone numbers, calendar items etc. So I lay in bed thinking now what do I do? But I soon got sleepy from the early morning trip and dozed off. I woke up and thought something was wrong. I listened and realized all I could hear were birds chirping. No sirens, no traffic, no noise.. just birds.

It was very early for me. I normally don’t go to bed till 2 am and am up and down most of what is left of my night. I have 2 debilitating illnesses that make sleep near impossible. I am treated by my doctors, specialists, massage therapists, physio therapists and acupuncturists. As I got out of bed I noticed that I had actually stayed in the same position all night. Wow.

I went downstairs and was met with a good morning and a bowl of porridge. I am 50 years old. I haven’t had porridge since I left home at 17. But I ate the whole bowl. By the second day I wasn’t wearing my watch. There was no point. I had no schedule to keep. I helped in the flower beds transplanting bedding plants and moving others. We went for walks around town. All 6 blocks long and 3 blocks wide worth of town. It would take us 40 minutes or so to walk every single block but only part of the time was spent walking, the rest of the time was spent talking to neighbors who were curious at who the stranger was with Pauline.

All cars that did manage to come by us on our walks were met with the other drivers waving hi. The excitement of the week was going to the big neighboring town for the weekly shopping expedition. This other town happens to be my home town that I was born and raised in and is also only 10 miles away. I travel that just to go to the store at home when I was just there because I forgot something. But with my mom, she only goes once a week. We drove by the farm that my great-grandparents started when they moved to Saskatchewan from Quebec. We drove by my high school and I was reminded of all the basketball games our girls team won that I played centre on and the boys football games they won that I was a cheerleader for.

As I dropped her off at the hair salon (better known as the beauty parlour there) I went to the cemetery to do some searching. I love family history and work hard digging up tangled roots. I had arrived at my mom’s with a gift of a 15 generation pedigree chart for her. Most lines were complete that far, and the rest were about half way done. I needed some dates and I had an elusive great-grandmother that I had no info on. Usually on my yearly treks home I take bouquets of flowers to put on my father’s gravesite. This time I started at the first row and went by every single headstone in every single row. I stopped at each ancestor’s gravesite and spent a minute thinking of a memory of them. If it was someone I had never met, I just said a prayer for them and thanked them for coming to this new land that they had tilled so that I could have a life here. I took pictures of every ancestor’s headstone for my book of remembrance.

I finally ended my search and went looking for my mom. We went for lunch and I came across one of my best friends from school that I had lost touch with. After much hugs and high pitched high school girlish squeals, we caught up a bit. I asked for her email address to keep in touch and she said “Sally I don’t even have a computer let alone an email address. We are still in the dark ages out here.” I thought how do you survive without it???

We had our lunch then continued on our errands. At the bank as we stood in line I commented to my mom that I could not remember the last time I had walked into a bank. She asked how I did my banking. I tried explaining online banking to her. Then had to explain ATM’s for her. As we went on, I saw that the pharmacy was closed. The hospital was now closed. They were down to 2 restaurants; well they call them café’s there instead of the 3. I saw vacant stores and it saddened me.

We then drove to the home I had grown up in. My mom had sold it when my dad died as it was too much for her. A couple of years ago the town, bought it for the property and they burnt the house down. As I looked at the empty lot, I saw the tree that my mom and dad had planted. I remembered that day. Every time we played in the back yard we would jump over this little twig of a tree. Then one spring day one of my brothers went to jump over it and it connected him quite smartly if you get what I mean. We never tried jumping over it again. Now it stood high in the sky, its branches outstretched as if it was trying to still protect us. I walked over the lot and talked about the garden that we had planted every year.

There are about five people in this world that talk pretty much nonstop, my mom, my sister’s daughter, my daughter, one of my granddaughters, and myself. But on the ten mile drive back to the new house I was strangely quiet in my thoughts. Every night I was there I was usually in bed by 10:30 or so. I had to work temperatures in Fahrenheit to my mom as she refuses to learn Celsius and even at 95 degree nights I still laid in bed with 3 blankets and a quilt covering me. I slept soundly every single night, through the entire night. I woke up every morning refreshed and able to move on my own. I could dress myself and even come down the flight of stairs on my own.

We spent 12 days laughing till we had to fight wetting our pants. We cried. We went through BOXES of pictures remembering memories of each and every one. I started collecting pictures that mom had, to take home with me. Scrap booking is a new hobby for me and I could already see the 2nd scrapbook that I wanted to do for my mom. She kept telling me I needed to take such and such home with me. The night before I left I had filled one large suitcase and 7 boxes worth of stuff to send off by courier.

Two of my brothers and their families came down to be with me and we spent some time together. I saw a new one year old nephew and a new one year old great-niece that I had never met yet. I tried spending time with each family member at the cabin by the lake as we cooked and ate together. I showed them the pedigree chart I had given mom and I watched as one of my nephews read it following his youngest son’s path to the original ancestor that came to Canada from France. This young 2 year old little Zacharie was his namesake. My dad would have loved to have known the name was continuing on after many years.

Another great nephew came running to me all tousled hair from his nap and a big grin on his face. It wasn’t until his big bear hug that his mom noticed two small perfectly muddy handprints on the back of my white t-shirt. I just smiled and said it’s ok, it’ll wash. I tried washing it when I got back to moms, twice actually but the handprints remained for some reason. I told mom you know its fine. I am going to wear this t-shirt with pride when I get back and if anyone asks I am just going to tell them it’s a love print!

I watched my oldest brother with his grandchildren and I remembered the day he taught me to tie my shoes, the day he taught me to ride a tricycle, then a two wheeler, the day he forgot to teach me to brake same bicycle; he taught me to use a bat to play baseball and how to throw like a boy. One of my granddaughter’s baseball team last year came in first in their finals. Tradition is important in my family.

The visit went by too fast. As I got on the bus at the small city an hour away from mom's to get to the city where I could catch my flight home, I waved to my mom and blew kisses at her. All of a sudden I saw her age in her face and her stance. It was like she was now the child and I the mother and I wanted to hold her and kiss her owie better. The bus pulled away and I watched her waving with one hand and wiping the tears off her face with the other hand. I waved till I couldn’t see her.

In my bag beside me, was my MP3 player, my cell phone, my laptop, my storey book and magazines, all untouched during my trip. Instead of turning every thing on, I spent the 3 ½ hours reminiscing. I thought of the teachers that spent time after school, in the evenings and weekends in their homes with us when we had problems. I remembered being able to walk to your friends and not even think of being kidnapped. I thought of my mom and leaving her keys in the car while we went to the store. I thought of the parades we had where the whole town turned out. I thought of the week long visits at each of our grandparent’s farm and how it was fun all of a sudden to do chores. I remembered the comfort of traditions and thought of just how many things I now do in my life that my mother and grandmothers did in theirs.

I continued doing this till I heard the bus driver say we were entering the city limits. I came to the greatest realization of all…. The one thing I couldn’t wait to run away from when I was a teenager is the very same thing I would do just about anything to be able to run back to. Thanks Mom. You did the one thing that all my doctors and specialists have not been able to do with all the medications and treatments I have been on. You took care of me. At your home, I wasn’t a mom, a wife or a Nana. There was nothing around me but love and peace of mind. There were no distractions and there was routine. You made sure I laid down every afternoon for a nap. You made me eat my vegetables and that I finished my plate before I could have my dessert. You let me be me without a care in the world and this is the best I have felt in years. Then I got stuck in an airport in a different city with a delayed flight and cell phones beeping all around me as passengers are trying to call homes and offices to let them know. I was 3 hours delayed in landing and ended up leaving Vancouver airport at 5 pm right at the height of rush hour traffic as 6 lanes of traffic tried to converge into 2. I could feel the tension already building in my shoulders and I have to remind myself of a better place that I just left, of a life where there are still people that follow the Golden Rule and still believe in helping their neighbors. As I conclude these thoughts I focus on your face Mom and I think of our mother and child reunion. Breathe in breathe out.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story. What I would give to have a Mom and daughter reunion with my mother who died in 1993. You are so lucky and blessed Sally.

Carmen said...

What a wonderful time away! I am happy that you were so relaxed and able to enjoy your time with your mom! Beautiful!