Let me start this with our visit home last year. We were camp hosts at the beach downstate and every other week or so we would come to Wilmington and spend our days off with my parents. The last time we came up before we left for Florida left a picture in my minds eye that I will never, ever forget.
It was our last day there. The truck was packed with our belongings and we were in the house for the last time. I was making a final sweep to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind and Bob was on the front porch with my parents saying his so longs. I always hated this part, I always told myself I’m not going to cry. I always did, always do, probably always will. It was my turn. Try as I might I couldn’t hold the tears back when my mom gave hugged me as tight as she could, told me she loved me and that she would miss me. Then it was my dad with his bear hug, his ‘I love you babe” and “be careful on the road”.
When I got in the truck and went to put my seat belt on I turned to my right saw my dad in the doorway. I hooked my belt and looked back. He put his hand up in a wave and I put mine up in return. And there he stood, my dad, the last time I would ever see him up and about It even went through my mind that day that I could be looking at him like this for the last time. Bob and I both noticed that last summer that he was slowing down and while not in bad health he wasn’t a picture of health either. Besides he was pushing 80, and well, you just never know. So I stared at him. My dad, framed by the doorway, hand raised, staring back at me as if burning this picture of me into his mind as I was of him. When I think of my dad that’s how I see him, standing in the doorway.
Our time is running short here. We only have a few more days before we head back to Arizona. I find myself staring at my mom. I take in every silver strand in her salt and pepper hair. I take notice of the laugh lines at the corners of her eyes and shape of her lips. I look into the brown eyes, the color the same as my own. The cheek, once so smooth has lines I hadn’t noticed before. I’m burning her image into my memory.
My mom can rock herself to sleep in her rocker in a matter or minutes and keep rocking in her sleep. I sit and watch her. Its these times I forget the TV and just stare. How she folds her hand down and rests her head on the back of her hand. I want to remember every detail.
I love the lilt of her laughter. How she leans forward and laughs heartily if something really tickles her funny bone.
This woman, my mom, I love so much and I can’t help but stare.