Trails of steam rose from the tea pot, “Would you like honey?” she asked.
“No… thanks. Sugar. I’ll do it Ma,” I replied absentmindedly as I rose from my seat.
The sun streamed in through the bay windows of my childhood home. From my seat, I was able to catch glimpses of Brooke and J.T. as they tossed a football in the backyard.
“Everything is always better after a cup of tea,” I could almost hear my Memere comment. Although she had been gone many years, I could still hear her gentle voice echoing.
With each cup of tea that I shared with my mother, another gem of wisdom could be gleamed. Often, I would have a few quiet moments with my mother before everyone arrived for our midweek gathering over dinner. Reflecting now, I can appreciate this time as a gift that is still partially unwrapped.
“You know, Maary, until Sean got sick, I really believed that nothing bad could happen,” she offered to me after her first sip of tea.
She paused, adjusted her seat and glanced out at the traffic spinning around the rotary.
I lifted my gaze from the sugar bowl and looked at her in silence, gently biting my lower lip. I gave her space. Silence is filled with so many answers.
My mother, my mother; never one to wallow in self-pity.
My mother; resilient, with her youthful spirit marveling at the simplest delights. A stone, a shell, a tree; all reason to stop and enjoy.
My mother; never once have did I witness her act ugly or bitter despite the trials she had to face.
Yet, my mother; fierce and determined when needed.
When faced with the idiotic threat of losing custody of her six children, she entered law school in her forties stating simply, “I will never allow someone to cause me to feel that vulnerable again.”
“It is true, Maary,” she furthered lowering her cup. “Wasn’t I lucky!” she smiled, her baby blue eyes squinting.
“Oh, Ma.” I sensed the weight of her words. This would be a realization she would repeat to me time and time again. I loved her so much each time she shared this with me because I understood the message behind her words.
“You know, when he was a baby I would walk him in his stroller all around our Vermont neighborhood. On his first day of kindergarten, I had to close the front door on him because he would not get on the bus. Oh…I feel so bad about that.” Her smile disappeared and she took another sip of tea.
As a mother now, I sensed the piece of her heart that broke when the reality of his disease visited her. The collage of moments that she tried to knit together to understand his disease. She never once hesitated to embrace the son he now was, beyond the delusions and hallucinations that taunted him.
Brooke and J.T. burst in the back door, football still in tow. “Memere!” they screeched in unison. “Can you take us to the park?”
“Oh, give me just a second,” she replied jumping up from her seat and her cup of tea that was still hot.
Within moments, she was ready for her “adventure” with them. Calling up the stairs, “Phil, I am going for a walk with the kids. Be back in a bit.”
“You coming too Maary?” she pleaded, her voice brimming with anticipation.
And, there it was. My mother’s innate ability to reset and savor the moments she was given. How could I not go on this adventure with her? I had all my life, quietly following her lead without completely comprehending the power of her example.
Wasn’t I lucky?