My mom was in town last weekend, and I couldn’t have been happier. I hadn’t seen her in months, which is just insane, honestly. Now, don’t get me wrong — I talk to my mama pretty much daily. If three days go by where we haven’t spoken, we’ll generally call each other in a panic, thinking the other is probably dead. And then we realize all is well and we talk for two hours. Well, she talks for two hours, and sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get in a word here and there.
Still, nothing replaces spending actual time with my mom, so when I learned that her alma mater’s commencement exercises were going to be the weekend of Cinco de Mayo and that my aunts, uncles, and grandma would be strolling through town on their way to see my cousin Becky graduate from nursing school in Wichita, I begged her to ask them if she could tag along for the ride. They graciously agreed, and I got a short-but-sweet weekend to spend with mi madre.
I was happy it worked out from the moment we drove onto campus and she threw her hands in the air and cheered. She’s naturally a happy woman as it is, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her that happy. The moment we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by endless amounts of former college buddies and acquaintances from back in the ’60s. Even some of my dad’s old friends were there — some kept playing with my hair and saying they know exactly where my curls came from, others told stories of the trouble he got into that resulted in him getting kicked out of school, and there were some I begged to not let their opinions of my mom go downhill when they realized who she married. It was fun to see my mom in a setting that had her so pumped up and excited. Plus I had been pretty desperate for some Mom-and-me time, so it was a nice early Mother’s Day gift for both of us. I haven’t been home for Mother’s Day in I don’t know how long.
But the funniest thing about it all is the realization of what we fear about not seeing much of each other. In a nutshell, with me being hours away from my mom, we worry about a couple of the same things when it comes to each other.
• Our health. She has a bad back, she’s diabetic, and after two cancer scares, I’m just not always sure she’s taking care of herself the way that she should. If I was home, I’d be cooking for her non-stop to help her lose weight and fight the diseases with which she’s been plagued. Sadly, all we had time for here was BBQ and Denny’s, which doesn’t help my concerns about her. On the other hand, she worries about whether I’m eating or not. She obviously assumes I don’t, and for some reason thinks I’m too poor to afford anything but ramen noodles. Yet the fact is, I regularly pack away entire Chipotle burritos. (Thanks, roller derby!) I eat nothing but fresh, organic produce, so who knows where this idea comes from.
• Our financial stability. She’s on a pension and she does a lot for my brothers and me. But honestly, she could survive on $5000 a year. That’s growing up as a preacher’s kid for you. Likewise, she worries about me. Because yeah, sometimes I forget to, oh, pay bills. I’m a writer, after all. I don’t think with that side of my brain. I really could use an assistant who takes care of those types of things so all I can do is write and play derby. At least I have my mom to remind me to be an adult.
• Our hobbies. Mom worries about the fact that I play derby. Sometimes I think she’s convinced I’ve broken another bone and just haven’t told her. But I haven’t. I do, however, have a ton of blisters right now, but that’s another story of its own. And I worry that she hates that I play. It breaks my heart, honestly. I hate being a disappointment to her. So naturally, I worry about her hobby, which is hating the fact that I play roller derby.
It was hard to see her go. Really hard. I actually cried all morning after she left. If anything, it’s just more motivation to slow down and take the time to go see her again soon.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Mom got her Bachelor’s in Music. She’s a phenomenal musician who is adept at the piano, organ, and trombone. She was so looking forward to spending a weekend in Kansas City that she kept practicing the song, and when she played it at my house, my evil Boston Terrier decided to bark along. Hey, I always wanted to be the Partridge Family — I’ll take what I can get.