I was asked in an interview yesterday “so this Round The World trip is how many days?” And I answered – One Hundred and Eleven. And I was immediately stuck by a couple of thoughts.
Two: Because of the vagaries of life, the schedule is in a bit of flux and the 111 days that I thought this journey would take has extended to 140 or 170. This is actually great.
It’s 1998 and I’m sitting in the lounge of the assisted-care retirement home, Harvest Hill where my mother has been living for over a year. Her husband, my Dad, passed away a couple of years ago before they had the opportunity to move into Harvest Hill together. They knew this would be their last home and were looking forward to nesting one more time. It didn’t happen. Now my Mom is living there alone, without her husband of over 60 years. First time alone. We’re waiting for them to open the dining room for dinner. Silence roars around us settling in the far corners of the room, holding us close, support, but little comfort. My mother is not accustomed to talking about herself, her feelings, her thoughts, her emotions, fears or desires. But I want to know what is going on inside that beautiful 86-year-old mind of hers. So I risk a probing question. “Mom, I just want to know, Popi is gone, and you’re living alone, and you’re in the home that you and Dad planned. I just want to know, ‘how are you doing’?” The silence sits up, alert, ready to move and shift and fill other corners, other crevices. I can see Mom’s soft green eyes lightly focused on a thought that floats somewhere in front of her. A thought as tangled and organized as the sweaters she used to knit. As practical and durable as the rugs she used to weave. A flash. A glint. She’s about to speak. She looks at me and for a moment I am wondering if I have stepped over a boundary, but then, “It’s a change. It’s a challenge. And it’s possible.” And here eyes re-focus on the floating thought that is now slithering toward one of those silent, dark corners. And I am left in awe, in wonder, in love. My Mom. My silent, unassuming, giving, compassionate Mom. My Mom. My Buddha Mom.