After the last suture was stitched, the mohs surgeon said he was going to cover the incision with glue. This guy is the best. You wait months to be in his surgical chair. And he’s funny, so I thought the glue comment might be a joke. But no, his intern told me with his eyes, glue is the next step. And then, as he applied the sticky goo across his handy work, my Dr. broke into another chorus with his favorite group, Supertramp, who had been serenading us during the whole procedure through the portable speakers.
Take a dream on a Sunday
Take a life, take a holiday
Take a lie, take a dreamer
Dream, dream, dream, dream, dream along
I’ve thought whole bunches about my mother but perhaps more so now that she’s been gone for what seems like forever. Sometimes it’s because I want to call her, or even better, still get those calls from her. She’d listen to my troubles for hours, or minutes or for however long I’d have. There was this dread and that, this struggle or that, always a new hurdle in my life that seemed too high. I wonder, before her last year when cancer had issued a real end date, if I ever asked how she was. She’d never offer any sad news anyways. In her telling, life was nothing short of marvelous. There was always an engagement party, subsequent bridal shower, big wedding, and without missing a beat, baby shower, penned-in on her wall calendar that lay on her kitchen counter. While others filled glossy planners or google docs, she populated those daily squares with a myriad of obligations and parties and adventures.
She knew everything about everyone too. Oh, she’d start, your Aunt Pat is off to visit this one or that and another cousin or aunt or uncle so-and-so was promoted or having a hip done or touring Lourdes; did I know any of this before the conversation? Never. Never fully realized their importance. Until I stopped getting the updates. Now, now I’m fading far from those frayed ties, and I don’t like the feeling.
She’d quiz me on my life, and ask about all sorts of matters which she did not get the details straight about, but she didn’t sweat the small stuff; it was the general overview of living she’d search out. Accolades. Graduations. Aspirations. And not just mine. The children’s. My spouse’s. Neighbors she’d met while visiting. She networked like an algorithm ready to solve whatever was needed, and in doing so she held us like glue. Perfectly in place. For decades. Despite the distance and personalities and complications.
I miss that. Hearing about the whole of us. Feeling those connections to people who I ran with on rocky beaches or sat across from during celebrations decades ago and now would barely recognize. I miss those places where we all collided too. They were packed up, bought and sold; lost to us now. As I lay under the surgeon’s steady hands I thought, no one will know I’m here unless I tell them. There is no one heralding the facts and fiction of my life anymore. No replacement for that adherent.
My daughter does call. She does ask about my surgery but I know how this goes. Make light. Don’t let on. She again asks me how I am. I want to whine. Not be what I must be now. Instead, I recite the platitudes. Life is a wondrous adventure. We are so lucky to have so much. My mother’s voice in mine. My daughter is relieved.
I know how this must go, for I learned from a pro. I coax out her anguish. She launches in about her car. Something about the exhaust or air conditioning. Something about a light. There was a crazy day of finding a mechanic. A dealership. Hoping the warranty would cover it. Issues with her roommate persist. That non-defined boy-friend still needing definition but there we both sigh. Love’s a tough one. I make sounds of empathy and wonder. I express hope. Laugh loud and then we both do. Through all of this chatting my mind wanders for I treasure the timbre of her voice. I love sensing her strength when she thinks herself weak, feeling her surety when she feels unsure, seeing her stretch of long days ahead even while I know how short they can be. This must have been the same for my mother I now realize. Holding strong. Holding us all when we lost footing.
Of course my daughter isn’t me, and I’m not my mother, and we have forged a different relationship; today we dig together into the real stuff. There can be some pain revealed. But I know enough to know how this must go. I must be their glue. The one that knows them from the very core. I am mother. Watch her dance now. I encourage: take that great leap, be fearless as you soar, keep living with your best intentions. As I step firmly into that role the ashes blowing around my feet are gone with a swift wind. I too rise.
I sit in the sunshine. A day of rest in pj’s, staring as orange leaves float off the maple out front. That blue sky which needs nothing from me. This party we all plot and plan plays in my mind as I heal. Glue and all.