My mom died more than 20 years ago. Cancer. It was over within a matter of months. ("Mercifully," some say.) Yet still too horrible to contemplate.
I was living in Pennsylvania at the time. Mom lived up in Connecticut (4 hours away).
Exactly one week before we learned the news, she and my aunt (her sister) drove down to visit for the weekend. (Something which had never happened before.) They rolled into town Friday afternoon, and returned home Monday (leaving as I left for work in the morning).
It went fast, but we had the best time. (Ever!) Downright magical. [Again, this was just a week before we learned the news. I can still remember the phone call...
.. which came unnervingly early Saturday morning » "Honey, I got bad news," my aunt said. "Are you sitting down?" .. the question which always harbingers the worst kind of news.]
Call it what you want » "God," "the Universe," "Destiny" .. whatever terminology you're comfortable with .. but that weekend felt like (and *still* feels like) a special gift .. one which I can always return to (in my mind) .. whenever I miss her.
Who knows why she decided to come down that particular weekend? Maybe she had a premonition? .. or intuition? .. or just pure coincidence. "Spur-of-the-moment idea," she claimed. But certainly, the timing was good as it gets. The following week, she went in for a check-up. (That was the beginning of the end.)
The height of our weekend came during dinner at a fancy restaurant » Windows of Steinman Park (situated to your left in the picture, just out of view). The place had a wall of huge floor-to-ceiling windows (hence the name), some two or three stories tall, overlooking the park below (located in the heart of America's oldest inland city).
An old black man, wearing a red beret, sat playing a grand piano there. His gentle music carried softly throughout the multi-tiered restaurant. My girlfriend at the time (a sharp-dressing manager of a woman's clothing store) had to work that night, so it was just the three of us.
Sitting around an oversized round table, with an envious view of the park below, we had a glass or two of Chardonnay with our appetizers. The conversation was scintillating. We even befriended the kindly, old piano player (Fess), who played many beautiful songs for us.
Something definitely felt different that night. She didn't even feel like my mom, but rather a close friend. All barriers had vanished. These things are difficult to describe. (Maybe impossible.)
••• today's entry continues below •••
When dinner arrived, I asked the server, "Don't I get a salad?"
"Oh, I'm sorry," the waiter replied, looking perplexed. Then mom spoke up, saying » "Honey, you *ate* your salad."
It took a sec to recall, but she was right. We laughed so hard other guests gave us looks. When you're so caught up in the moment .. in the conversation .. that you don't even remember eating your salad .. uh, that's a sign you're having a good time. I can't tell you how thankful I am for that weekend.
Now I said all that to say this » Yesterday I had the *best* time with the Bug. Or perhaps I should say, he had the best time with me. Either way, there's nothing quite so satisfying as seeing your children giggling with glee for hours on end.
In the afternoon, we stopped by "Uncle Tom's" house, who has a big swimming pool. Picture-perfect day. We splashed and frolicked all afternoon, jumping in, both separately ("Watch me, dada!") and together (with me holding him, or merely holding hands). I even showed him how to do a cannonball.
The Bug is fearless in the water. I'd toss him up in the air .. over and over, as he called out » "Watch me, Uncle Tom! Watch me!" .. after which he'd ride on my back, over to where Tom was sitting. There he'd get multiple celebratory high-fives and ample laudatory encouragement.
Tom thought it was so cool that he said, "I'm gonna run inside and grab my camera."
In a few weeks the Bug will be moving far away. While the thought of that may be too horrible to contemplate, I'll always have yesterday as a happy memory I can return to .. whenever I miss him.
Last night I had a dream about the Bug frolicking in the fountain at Steinman Park. Mom was sitting at a table nearby, smiling, as she silently ate a salad. What do you suppose it might mean?
Yes, life can suk at times. Yet I'm grateful for the memories .. especially when they're all we have.