This was originally posted in 2010. Mom is gone now but I hope that this blog will cause those that still have their moms around to cherish their time. If your mom is gone, I hope you will remembers some good time.
In another blog I talk more about mom, and how her near death helped form the way I try to live my life.
Mom is getting frail, in body but not in spirit. Now, she has never had great balance, and I would have to say I probably inherited that trait from her, along with my lack of any sense of direction and a tendency to be kind of ditzy sometimes. I think I get my sense of humor and ability to laugh at myself from her for sure.
One of my memories from childhood is watching mom careen like a ping pong ball down the hallway in the mornings, heading in the general direction of the kitchen in search of her first cup of coffee. Even in a fully caffeinated state she walks a lot like Bette Midler, kind of teetering with short steps even if she doesn’t have on high heels. We’ve always joked that she would not be able to pass a field sobriety test if she was ever pulled over, because she has never been able to walk a straight line.
I was an only child for five years. I wish I could remember those times, but I don’t. It surprises mom that I don’t remember the flight from Guam, where I was born. Of course I was only 13 months old…
Yesterday, helping her get in and out of the car and to and from the restaurant, we held hands. I held her hand to make sure she didn’t fall, and to help steady her as she walked. Just as she held my hand over fifty years ago as I learned to walk.
At some point in time we quit holding hands. I don’t remember when. I don’t remember starting to pull away from her, but I’m sure that is what I did. Keely does that now. As we walk through parking lots (read: danger zone! in my mind) she walks beside me. But I still reach for her hand as we start to cross the street. She doesn’t like it, and has voiced her opinion about her competency to cross the street by herself in very emphatic terms, but I still reach to hold her hand. I need to know she is safe as we cross the street.
Mom and I took a trip together to England ten years ago. We had a blast. While on the trip, I realized it was the first time I had mom to myself since I was five and life changed from solitary child to oldest child. For two weeks we explored London, and visited my friends Terry and Mandy Brake, who invited us to stay in their wonderful home in Wilshire. That trip was one of the highlights of my life, and I think mom would agree a highlight for her as well.
We held hands the entire trip.
Remember what I said about mom having no sense of direction? Well, she gets lost very easily. In shopping malls, in large buildings, even in one of my former houses. I learned at an early age to pay attention to landmarks on our trips cross country, as she would get off the interstate for gas then head back in the direction from which we had just come.
I was very concerned about losing my mom on our trip to Great Britain. And she was concerned about being lost. So we either held hands, or she held on to my jacket or purse if my hands were full.
We had a memorable experience in one of the tube stations where the door to the elevator started to close after I had entered. I had walked in and turned around. Mom was standing on the other side of the door as it started to close. I remember thinking “if that door closes I’ll never see her again”. I reached to her and grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her in, almost knocking us both over. I held on very tightly as we laughed.
We still laugh about that incident. I know I probably over reacted. If the elevator had gone up I could have waited. I assume mom would have gotten on when it came down and we could have met up. But I didn’t think that far ahead, all I could think of was that I had to keep her close to keep her safe.
Lovers hold hands for the connection, the sense of love and security. So it is for parent and child.
I continue to grab Keely’s hand as we cross a street. And I hold my mom’s hand as we walk. I realize that there will be a time when Keely will be too old and independent to rely on me for guidance and safety. That is as it should be. But I’m also very thankful to be able to return the favor to my mom, and help her as she walks, as she guided me so many years ago.