Sunday, December 12, 2021
Sunday, October 31, 2021
"Mom! What are you doing up so early?!?"
The clock read 6:35 as I stood in the kitchen wiping my eyes while Charlie-Bear bounced around me, anticipating his morning bowl of Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice. Once my eyes slowly focused, I saw Mom there, dressed in her travel clothes, shoes all tied, and coffee cup in hand.
"You know me," she smiled as she made her way to her Activia blueberry yogurt atop the placemat on the kitchen table. "When I have something to do, I like to get an early start and ease into the day."
"Mom, we said we weren't leaving until 9:00." I was still dragging from the previous afternoon's endurance test of a full of day teaching and an evening of parent-teacher conferences. Thank God I had the sense not to go to Pickles to unwind with my fellow teachers.
I don't blame her, though. I actually should have seen this coming. After all, we have had this road trip planned since late September and had drawn a tiny gray Explorer on the calendar and had written " John and Chris" to remind us of this special day.
"Well, I have to eat, walk Charlie, and shower," I muttered, thinking I had already screwed up her day.
"You go right ahead. I am just taking my time and pacing myself."
An hour or so later, I was hustling my 92-year-old mother down the stairs as I carried her cane, purse, and additional travel bag behind her. I opened the Explorer passenger door and gently shoved her across her seat as a bit of sweat dripped down the side of my head. I had read the entire day's weather forecast. Rain. Lots of it. I was zipping around the back-side of the vehicle when Mom called out to me, "My cane! I don't have my cane!"
"Shit," I mumbled when I realized I was still carrying it with me. I rushed back around to the passenger side to lodge the cane beside Mom and the door. "I am so sorry. I guess I am just excited to get on the road."
"I am, too, but just slow down, please," she demanded, flipping some 92-year-old shade at me as I smiled while shutting the door.
An hour later, we pierced the downpour as we drove north up Route 7 along the Ohio River. The misty, cold fog enveloped us while the seat warmers kept us cozy from the elements. Bruce Springsteen's Western Stars played as a glorious backdrop to the GPS woman who politely requested we take the next exit that would lead us to more rain, more fog, and less coffee in my CCHS insulated travel cup.
Road trips offer a respite to a soul which has traversed a long and hard life, to a soul looking for comfort atop spinning wheels on the highway's pavement, to a soul searching for meaning in the tranquility of an ever-changing landscape.
This road trip was all about Mom; I was chauffeur and passenger. My eyes were fixed on the blurry road behind the swish-swash of the windshield wipers. My hands gripped the steering wheel firmly as I anticipated the occasional larger-than-normal, send-us-sliding wet spot. My heart listened to her unspoken thoughts which drove the purpose of this road trip.
Two wet hours later, Mom and I arrived somewhere between Cleveland and Roger's Flea Market - Twinsburg, Ohio. We drove throughout a city I never dreamed we would have visited. While Mom adjusted her clothes, sipped some Gatorade, and folded the Mapquest directions she used to track our trip, I searched for the home of her friends John and Chris Hannig.
Mom and Chris used to take long walks up and down the road in front of our homes in Bellovedere for longer than either of them could possibly count. Every morning the two would tie up their shoelaces, stretch their calves on the wall beside the sidewalk of our house, then begin their trek up and down the hills. The talks about family, life, 18th Street Center, and the church would become their own road trip of friendship which would continue for decades.
To be closer to their ever-growing family, Chris and her husband moved to Twinsburg a little over two years ago, right when the Covid pandemic began. Back then, we were so isolated as uncertainty gripped our world. Mom and Chris never really had a proper send-off, one full of tight hugs and "love you's."
Over the past few years, Mom and Chris have kept in contact through numerous phone calls and Hallmark cards. John and Chris have been back to visit friends in Wheeling occasionally, but that long drive is not easy to undertake as often as they would like. This past summer, I had asked Mom if she wanted to visit John and Chris when the weather would be milder than the oppressive August heat. She smiled and said she would love to do that.
We spent the afternoon at Chris and John's new home. John gave me a tour of the house, showing me his workshop, Chris' craft room, and their beautiful backyard with a gorgeous rocky hillside. Mom and Chris spent nearly an hour "girl-talking" as they savored the time to look at furniture placement, the organization of the kitchen, and the pictures of the family both she and her husband treasured.
We broke sourdough bread over a meal together. We enjoyed warm apple pie and ice cream while reminiscing about the past, catching up on "Wheeling" gossip and family news as they continued a friendship that has transcended the years and miles in between.
We left late that afternoon, hoping to avoid the darkness which arrived so soon in the fall. The rain had begun to subside to a soft drizzle as I transported Mom's purse, travel bag, and Chris' care package of muffins, pie, and leftover sourdough bread to the Explorer. Mom and Chris hugged more than once before John gently helped Mom across the driveway and into her seat.
"Hey, Mom. Do you want that blanket now? It is going to be a long ride home, and I want you to be warm."
"Oh, yes. Give me that blanket. That'll be nice." She pulled my dark blue Doctor Who tardis blanket up around her as I turned on the motor. I started to back out and reminded Mom to wave goodbye to John and Chris who stood at the top of their front stairs waving back to us.
"That was really a nice visit, Mom," I said as we all waved goodbye to one another.
"Yes, it was."
Sometimes the worst part of a road trip is the inevitable return. When the trip begins, a sense of adventure enraptures the soul. Still, the road back wraps itself in the unknown, offering a feeling of contentment, a sense of loss, or something more hovering invisibly in between the gas tank fill up and bathroom breaks.
The rain disappeared completely as Mom and I headed back home from her road trip. Nearly halfway home, somewhere amid a mountain area of Ohio, the sun began to sink but left a remnant of the day. "Mom, look," I pointed to a collection of clouds that sought to hide the setting sun, a sun we never saw that day until now. "It's a rainbow. Isn't that beautiful?"
Mom peered up from her quiet seat beside me to smile.
Sunday, October 10, 2021
|The finished PAPA square. |
Caution: This is not as easy as it looks.
Sunday, August 22, 2021
Sunday, July 18, 2021
Gone are the days when I was really invested in the NBA. To be transparent, I do not think I ever really followed the regular season and only occasionally read about teams and players while watching highlights on YouTube or ESPN. I enjoyed the playoffs, though. This is where the stories always appeal to me.
I had been scrolling through Twitter where I saw a great interview with Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis and the Bucks had just evened the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns, during which he scored 40-plus points in a double-double over consecutive games while contributing this incredible block during the series-tying game.
Ashley Landis. “Giannis Antetokounmpo Signs Largest Deal in NBA History with Milwaukee Bucks,” CNN.com, 15 Dec.2020, www.cnn.com/2020/12/15/us/giannis-antetokounmpo-contract-spt-trnd/index.html.
Cherry, Kendra. “How Ego Strength Is Used to Manage the Id, Superego, and Reality.” Verywell Mind, 30 Apr. 2020, www.verywellmind.com/ego-strength-2795169.
“Giannis UNREAL BLOCK with 1:15 Left in CLUTCH Time!” YouTube.com, NBA.com, 15 July 2021, youtube/b4-Hi4MeYMY.
“‘When You Focus on the Past, That’s Your Ego.’ Giannis Antetokounmpo Life Lessons.” YouTube, upload by The Milwaukee Bucks, 17 July 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qLchg4xkOY.
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Sunday, June 6, 2021
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Every Thursday Mom and I pull up to the door to Classic-Changes Hair Design in Elm Grove. Rain or shine, Mom has a standing hair appointment with Cindy every week. Mom does her best to get around, but she never lets her limitations keep her from seeing Cindy. "It just makes me feel good," she says lightly patting her freshly-styled hair and smiling.
Being somewhat follically challenged, I can no longer appreciate the feeling of leaving a hair stylist's chair with a fresh cut. The closest feeling I have is after I trim my scraggly growth of a beard. Even then, it is not the same thing. It is more of a chore to keep the hair from growing into my lip or causing a rash on my skin. I cannot picture myself saying, "It just makes me feel good" then smiling and going about my way in the world.
Mom is different, though. Having her hair done is a treat for her. God love her. She deserves it, doesn't she? Out of respect for her and all mothers, I will not mention her age. I will not say anything about a weekly hair appointment but will do everything I can to make sure she arrives on time and does not have to wait when she is done. You know the reason, right?
The past several weeks, I have pulled up to the curb outside of Classic-Changes every Thursday after a long day at school, hopped out of the car to help mom, then walked her to the door. One time I shut off the car and took a little nap. I was so tired. This week, I had no time to nap but ran some errands for her in Elm Grove. I don't mind, even when I am tired. You know why.
I do my best to make it to the door as she is leaving, but Cindy is always there walking her out if I happen to be running late or snoozing. Mom loves going to Cindy because she knows exactly how to make her look and feel great.
A couple years ago, Mom was going through some health challenges, but even then she was determined to keep having her hair done on a weekly basis because keeping a routine was making life a bit more normal. I can remember the tender care that Cindy took with Mom as she personally knew all too well the challenges that Mom was facing with her health. Cindy continues to do for Mom what mothers have done for so many people in their lives: she takes care of her and helps Mom feel better about herself.
💛 Happy Mother's Day to you, Mom! 💛
💛 Happy Mother's Day to all! 💛