I promised myself that I’d have a date with my mother today. I even wrote it on my calender so that I’d stick to it. But I’m dragging my feet.
“Hi Mom,” I say, with a voice of hopeful expectation. She smiles back, and I feel warm. I restrain myself from saying, “I’ve missed you,” because I’m not sure that’s entirely true; and, I don’t want to scare her away with too much sentiment.
But then I’m at a loss.
What do we do now?
If she were in her diningroom, as she most often was, I’d pull up a seat across the table and watch her drink her coffee–and know that she’s missing her cigarettes. ( I expect she still sneaks them.)
But today, she probably wouldn’t be home anyway. She’d be out last minute shopping—maybe replacing the Christmas candy that she bought for the stockings early–and then couldn’t restrain from eating.
I think about skipping our date, but I know it will be forced upon me either way. I tried to avoid her last Christmas, but she caught up with me–and it was ugly. Afterward, I went into my studio, closed the door, fell to my knees, and buried my sobs into the seat of the arm chair. (All because I couldn’t remember how old she would have been on Christmas Day.)
This year, I’m ready. She’ll be 67. That’s way too old for her, and right away I apologize for mentioning it. To soften the blow, I tell her that I’ve grown fond of her blond hair. (For years I begged her to let it return to its natural dark brown. “It wouldn’t be brown anymore anyway, Kelly,” she reminds me.)
She’s glad to see that I’ve highlighted my own hair though she doesn’t know why I don’t let the hairdresser cover ALL of the grays. (My aging upsets her more than her own.)
“Why do you want to look old, Kel?” she says. “You’re still so young.”
But I don’t feel young, especially when I worry about my younger siblings.
“I don’t think I’ve done a good job with the youngers,” I confess, filling up with tears.
We’re saved from this tender moment by an email from my father. I glance at it, expecting a holiday greeting or a response to news about his grandchildren; but it’s only a “forward”– a little girl on a greeting card giving me the finger, saying: “Thanks Obama…”
“Dad’s still a jerk,” I tell mom, and we both laugh, shaking our heads. I’m not exactly sure how my mom feels about the new President. I can only imagine she is as thrilled as I am about what this means; but just in case, I don’t bring it up.
“Any tips?” I ask, returning to the topic of my siblings. I don’t tell her that I’m pissed off that she left me alone with all 7 of them. Particularly the baby. “They seem a bit lost,” I tell her.
She reminds me that they each have their own Higher Power; and we both nod our heads in alignment with the language and spirit of the Program.
I tell her I hope she’s found some nice (slightly) older man to take care of her–bring her flowers, take her to plays, tell her she’s beautiful, light a fire around her idea of a New Age book store/cafe.
Then, I ask her to read my Tarot for the next year like she planned to do in her shop. She’s surprised to find that I have my own cards now.
“It’s because of you,” I tell her.
She admires my spread cloth. It was a gift from a friend she’s never met. I suggest we draw a single card to guide our relationship into the New Year. She suggests I focus on myself. (She was always good at that, reminding me when I was overdoing.)
I choose two cards. One for us. One for me.
I look into her eyes– into those deep brown eyes– and say with tears in mine, “Thank you for loving me so unconditionally.”
“Oh, I made lots of mistakes, Kel,” she says through her own tears.
“I know,” I say, finally allowing her to make amends.
Then she turns to the card I pulled for us: The Six of Swords. I don’t like the look of the swords; they seem to represent strife; and Mom and I haven’t struggled together like that since I was 12.
Instead she explains that the Six of Swords symbolizes what we’ve always shared–the very focused, intentional thought; the fair witness; the creative mind that considers the whole, the integrative mind that recognizes sources of inspiration that are sometimes inexplicable.
“Like how the youngers are using their own guidance even if it’s hard for me to see?” I ask.
She smiles before turning to the card I chose for me. It’s exactly what I like–orangey and pretty–with tulips and flames, and my favorite number 3. It reminds me of my mother.
I look up to see what she can tell me about it.
But she’s gone…
I’m alone again.
I want to cry out, but instead I consider that she’s probably off to a date with another of my siblings. Maybe Oregon or Pennsylvania. And after that, New Jersey, where there will be Eggs Benedict and bottomless cups of coffee with her namesake. The day will probably end with a walk around the lake.
Instead of wishing she was there, I deepen into my own card–the 3 of Wands–the symbol of Virtue and Integrity. I see that the tulips are actually lotuses–representing mind, heart and action that is unified–exactly what I want in my life.
“This is a card of radiant, dynamic energy,” I hear my mom whisper from afar, “a state from which natural clarity emerges.”
I see that there is a crystalline structure behind the flowers and know that she would like that.
I wish her a big Happy Christmas Birthday.