I’m going home again. I leave today. I’ll fly there and stay with my godmother, Mom’s oldest friend from high school. Mom’s birthday is March 19. Tomorrow. Last year I flew out just for the day to surprise her. She cried when she saw me. Happy tears.
Did I know it would be the last time?
On Monday my friend Vicki will toss some of Mom’s stuff and me into her truck and we’ll drive to Vancouver together. Vicki and i were BEST friends in Jr. High and our first year of high school. She lived downtown, near our jr. high school. We would often go to her house for lunch (i remember Alpha-ghetti — she would barely warm it, because she liked it “al-dente”) so she could make lunch for her younger sister and brother. Her two older brothers were in high school by that time, I think, or had already left school to go to work. They were the kind of kids who were more “pushed out” of school than dropped out. Vicki was–is–a talented artist. she has a good eye and a steady hand, was always drawing pictures of people and horses and fruit and cars. I remember we would listen to Black Sabbath records in the bedroom she shared with her little sister Bev. Until she became a Christian, then she got rid of all her metal records. I wanted them, but she wouldn’t give them to me on account of they were satanic, I guess. oh well. that was forty years ago. I don’t think I ever even liked metal music, I just loved Vicki. One long weekend, our family went to Jasper for the weekend, and I got to invite Vicki to come with us. She remembers it as a week long, but it was only three days. But we packed a lot into those three days. We went horseback riding (I always ended up having an asthma attack when I hung out with horses. But whatever, it was totally worth it) and Dad built huge fires and we burned wieners and marshmallows on sticks and explored the woods and went into town and had at least a week’s worth of adventures in those three days.
I had a crush on her older brother Philip. Vicki’s home wasn’t happy or safe — I won’t tell you all the troubles, ’cause it’s not my story — but I really wanted her to come live with us. Mom said that would be fine with her, but we would have to tell her parents where she was. I don’t remember whether I talked to Vicki about it at all or not. Maybe i just asked Mom and when she said we would have to let Vicki’s folks know I didn’t pursue it with Vicki. I’ll ask Vicki what she remembers when we’re on our road trip next week.
I called Mom’s neighbours Gary and Grace today. I don’t know how many times i picked up the phone to call them, but then i’d just start to cry so I couldn’t bring myself to dial the number (I still say “dial” even though i haven’t had a rotary phone for about 20 years). Gary said, “Every time I go past her parking spot and it’s empty, i get a lump in my throat”. Grace’s voice quavered a bit when she asked if the new people had moved into Mom’s suite. I’ll go see them on Friday, go for lunch or something. They’re good people, and Mom LOVED them. Grace was Mom’s creative co-conspirator. They started up a card-making group on Wednesday afternoons, “Stamping and More”.
I’ve been ticking through old photographs again, That’s Mom in the middle. Jim is on the left, Ed behind her to her right, and Gwladys is the girl in the glasses. Uncle Tom wasn’t born yet, this is Mom’s 9th birthday. the caption on the back says, “one of the boys from the base took this picture” in Grandma’s handwriting. 1943. There was an air force training base near Swift Current. All the boys from Wales came to Dave Morgan’s when they had time off. Ed would come pelting up the road, “Mom! There’s another one coming!” and Grandma would sigh and say, “Dave, go kill another chicken.”
“She didn’t like that,” Mom said one time, “She wanted the chicken to have time to bleed out before she cooked it.” But that was a small thing. The farm was always a place of hospitality. Mom’s house, wherever she was for her whole life, was that as well. home.
I didn’t spill coffee on this, that stain was there long before I came upon the picture.
I’m so sad. It’s okay. It’s the price you pay for loving. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction — it’s just physics. okay. here I go.