If you can’t suspend your disbelief, then read no further. If you can, let me know what you think of this 🙂
We recently enjoyed a fleeting moment of contact with my mother….from that other side, whatever and wherever that may be. We believe we had contact with her, anyway — and that is that.
It requires a bit of back story to set up why we attach significance to what happened this week. All opinions are my own. Here is the back story:
I loved (love!) my Mom deeply, though ours was not a relationship devoid of misunderstandings and stress. When I was very young, I could do no wrong in her eyes; when I became an adult, our relationship never quite “jelled” and so I was particularly bereaved when she passed. I was only 30 years old, a new mother myself…..and I wanted more time for us to learn to understand and appreciate each other. We had so much left to say, prides to swallow, defenses to let down….that sort of thing. I especially had and have trouble with the fact that she hasn’t been here through the raising of my children. Doesn’t every mom need her own mom there for support and advice? Doesn’t every child need its grandparents?
I recall my mother as a mainly serious person — recalling her stories of dropping out of school after grade 8 to work and eventually help support her mom and four siblings after her dad died (she was only 15….). Or recalling my mother on the beach at Long Point, blowing a whistle at my siblings and me if we went out too far into the lake. There were other very serious and even sad times for my mother, and if you know us at all, you may recall those times. The last year as she suffered through emphysema/COPD it was particularly tough (most of the suffering largely unknown to any of us, except my dad) , but that last year had some happy times, too.
Sometimes my mother was humourous —- but rarely, if ever, was she silly. The moments that she was humourous or silly by accident, however, revealed a certain vulnerability about my mom that was especially endearing to me. A welcome chink in her armour. The sprinkler story is one of those times. It came in 1996…the last summer that my mom was alive.
That summer, my mother wanted a new sprinkler, a particular type of sprinkler — but she didn’t know what it was called. My dad had a hard time understanding what she wanted and assured her that they had a sprinkler. She said, “No, no, not that kind…..this kind”. She then lifted her arm and moved it slowly in intervals across her body with a punctuated vocalization…Chick chick chick chick chick chick [pause] and then released her arm quickly to the starting position chkchkchkchkchkchkchkchk. [Onomatapeaia is hard to write!!]. It was an impact sprinkler that she wanted!
My father brought up Mom’s Sprinkler Impression a fair bit that year, reminding mom that it was important to be able to laugh at ourselves. “C’mon, Joyce, show them the sprinkler” he would say. And if we were lucky, she gritted her teeth through her embarassment Chick chick chick chick chick chick [pause] chkchkchkchkchkchkchkchk…. and we all shared a much needed laugh, my mother included. After Mom was gone, we still talked about it lovingly. And after dad passed, we still talked about it and told our kids, too. Steven and I really should buy an impact sprinkler. Maybe now we will.
Which brings us back to this week. But not quite, because I have to tell you something about my iPhone…..my touch screen smart phone, which is smarter than me, and which I have had for several years. The touch screen can be annoying if it isn’t locked: in my pocket, my unlocked phone screen will randomly activate one of two things without my permission from the home screen: open iTunes to play random music (okay, usually Rufus Wainwright) or pocket-dial someone on my “favourites” list of 8 phone numbers. That’s it. Two things. iTunes. Pocket dial. From the home screen. Remember that.
We were camping at Long Point this week, the place of my most cherished, happy, family times. As far as I understand, our Fawcett family camped there before I was born, and I definitely camped there with my parents and older siblings from infancy to my teenage years, c. 1982. That last time was with my parents and just me, and a friend. At that point, my three older siblings had all flown the coop and my parents — tired of sleeping on the ground in a tent — had bought a used tent trailer. Then in 2004, Steven and ( started camping there with our own children, joined for some years by one of my brothers and his family and my sister and her family. Then, it was just Steven and I and our three kids and we still camp there.
On the first night of our trip this week, our oldest, Alexandra, and I had a very significant hurdle to jump together as mother and daughter, hand in hand. She is growing up. FAST. I want to be respectful. I want to set limits. I want her to continue to grow and not need me. All the while having her still need me a little. The hurdle we jumped went really well! If you are a parent, you know that emotionally charged bumps in the road can go either way with your teenager — it’s a bit of a crap shoot! 🙂 After we arrived on common ground, it was business as usual as we continued setting up camp for the night.
Steven and I — tired of sleeping on the ground in a tent — bought our own used tent trailer this year. I was arranging a few things in it, and Alex came in to get something. A magical parenting moment happened. I thanked her for talking through things with me. She told me she understood my concerns and that it was all good. We finished each others sentences and giggled a bit. It seemed significant — one of those parenting moments when you realize you handled an issue well, where you could relax a bit in the knowledge that you might be doing okay as a parent, navigating those tricky teenage years. I told Alex that honestly, one day when she hopefully had a teenaged daughter of her own, she would totally see where I was coming from. That she would have an “a-ha” moment, remember what we had just experienced and understand why I sometimes reacted the way I did when we disagreed…and that she would understand even more why my favourite quote about motherhood is that being a mother is to forever feel as though your heart is walking around outside your body. We hugged.
I realized at that moment that I forgot something in the car, and left the trailer to retrieve it. Alex went back to the group. As I walked back from the car and past our little group, I heard a sound. A faint sound. Looking around, I couldn’t identify it. The sound seemed to be coming from my pocket. Was it a pocket-dialed friend telling me to hang up my phone? No, not a voice. Was it a song playing in iTunes? No, not a song. The sound seemed strange, but also familiar, tugging at my brain as I took my phone out of my pocket……and saw something on the screen that I didn’t know I had. A sound that I have never used or known existed, buried in a nature sounds iPhone app I bought once on a lark. An iPhone app that is, in turn, buried deep in my iPhone on the third page of apps.
Chick chick chick chick chick chick chkchkchkchkchkchkchkchk Chick chick chick chick chick chick chkchkchkchkchkchkchkchk Chick chick chick chick chick chick chkchkchkchkchkchkchkchk Chick chick chick chick chick chick chkchkchkchkchkchkchkchk
I couldn’t believe my ears or eyes. I took a screenshot. Shared with my loved ones. Shed some tears at the closeness I felt as things came full circle.
Chick chick chick chick chick chick chkchkchkchkchkchkchkchk
She seemed to be saying, Yes, one day you will realize that being a mother is to forever feel as though your heart is walking around outside your body.