Usually it is Friday the 13th that people fear. It has a bad wrap. Black cats. Voodoo dolls. No walking under ladders. All superstition rooted in fear. Somewhere in sometime these things begin with fear, disappointment, or bad news.
Wednesday the 13th will be a day I will no longer hold affinity for in any positive way. Today I called my mom to discuss my upcoming vacation. I was excited to make plans to hangout and have dinner. I have not seen my mom since June 01, 2008, the day after my wedding. I miss her.
We chatted a little. More small talk and then, “did you talk to your brother? Nope Why? I was thinking it was some drama about my trip. Someone was upset that I could not spend time with them. The pitfalls of having a huge family. I waited for the silence to clear and for her to tell me that one of my brothers was upset with me or that she was disappointed that I was not going to stay near her.
“I have stage 2 Renal Failure.”
Shit…I pretended like I did not hear. “I am sorry mom. My phone is breaking up.” If I did not hear it, it was not true. Please God, don’t fuck with me. Tears crept up behind my eyes.
“Mom, what did you say?”
“I have stage 2 Renal Failure.”
“Hmmm, that sucks.”
My mom is a nurse. She has been all of my life. She used to give us shots from medicine she kept in the fridge that she smuggled from the office. She was a tough one to trick to stay home from school. She would insist on taking your temperature from the backside. It was more accurate. I had perfect attendance for most of my elementary years.
My mom and I had a hard time growing up. My folks divorced when I was 5 or 6 and my mom was left in a condition that was not the best to raise 3 boys under the age of 6. We went to live with my father and my grandmother. My dad’s sister lived there too. Soon my aunt (dads sister) and her 4 kids moved in to the house. That was 4 adults and 7 kids packed in to a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. This was not easy on my mom.
We were my mom’s life. She ate, slept, and existed for us. She fought to get back on her feet and soon we would see her every other weekend. She was the one that cultured us. She took us to plays, museums, gardens, and anything that was free in the LA basin. She was the smartest and most cultured and creative person I knew.
My mom was not the mom everyone else had. She was not the PTA kind of mom. She was not there when we got home from school. She came to as many of our things as she could but missed more than I would have liked. She did her best.
I have not always seen eye to eye with my mom. For a while were where estranged. At odds over something that I can no longer remember.
Recently, I have been going to therapy. I have been going for the last 4 months. It has allowed me to reclaim the beauty and joy of my youth. For the longest time when asked of my childhood I could only conjure up pain and disappointment. These last few months have allowed me to remember the mom that pushed my on the swings. The mom that hid her homelessness from us. The mom that laughed and smiled when everyone else could only cry.
I have loved reconnecting with her about these things. Every phone call over the last few months have seemed to open up another beautiful memory that we get to share. My mom is a strong woman. She might be the strongest woman I know. She has survived breast cancer. She has survived domestic violence and an abusive husband. She loved disco when everyone else thought it sucked. She gave me my love of Motown Records and tried to teach me to dance while Soul Train was on. I was poor in many ways growing up but I was rich in mom.
“Hmmm, that sucks.” I wanted it to not be true. I prayed deep inside my heart, in a place that I have only been once before with my brother, Grant.
“I have stage 2 Renal Failure. It’s not the end of the world. It is not my favorite. But I will enjoy the time that I have.”
I wanted to cry. She wanted to make plans for next Thursday. “Why don’t we go to the zoo and have dinner”, she offered.
That sounds great, mom. My phone was about to die. I told her this and in a calm voice, holding back tears she said, “I’ll talk to you soon, honey.” Thursday cannot come soon enough.