My mother has moved in with me. It seems like only yesterday that we were just like this, her in the drivers seat, her being the one to keep me steady on my feet, her keeping me balanced so that I didn't go careening off into the dark night, bad decisions, high fevers, or swampy creeks.
Now I'm the one that is trying to keep things balanced. Keeping them from tipping over. We are having such a great time. Really, we are. You laugh? You doubt it? I can see why. There are days that I stomp through the house exhasperated by her every sigh or comment. Days where I turn fourteen and want to go to room and slam the door. But my door doesn't slam because its just one more thing I have to fix in this house so there's no point. Instead, we find something we can agree on to watch or we tell old stories and laugh. Thank God she has a sense of humor. Most days I have mine. She follows me around the house with lipstick trying to get me to just "put a little color on" and reminds me to use lotion on my face. A lot. Like every time she looks at my face. She is also the Queen of the List. There is always a list of things we need. As soon as I leave for the store a new list has begun. Daily trips to the store are a bizarre part of my family history. It's as if we can only buy one thing a day. Or three. But never all of the things. When I was in high school and was sent to the store that was fine because Cousin Deb was with me and we always took the really, really long way which means we did everything we wanted to between the house and the store. Now the store is a chore. Particularly when someone is following your around the house with a plastic bag that has the name of a particular brand of three ply double roll extra size super soft paper with no truck tracks in the middle of it so that you can "READ every word so you get it exactly right." This is why I studied literature. I just know it. It's come to this.
But I get it. The little things matter when they seem to be the only things you might possibly have control over. The pressures of giving up your home after fifty years, making a move to the mountains after being a flatlander all your life (her words) and giving up so many shades of independence are challenging in every way. Trying to still find things when many are still in storage, reaching for the light in the middle of the night and realizing it's in the wrong place. That everything is in the wrong place. Mourning an old house like a family member. Because it was such a part of the family for so many years. The shelter for every tropical storm and hurricane. That little brick house held every family member far and wide while the storms raged outside. It was our lifeboat and our arc. Through the literal Florida storms and from life's storms. When grandparents grew sick and elderly and moved in with us. When there were car wrecks and bad news. The death of pets. Of bad grades. Broken hearts. Celebrations. Birthdays. It was all right there and my mother was the captain of that ship. Period. My Daddy was in the Army and away much of the time until he retired. Then he came home and took his place without ever removing her from hers.
Now so many things fall to me. Just cause this is the way that life shook out. It has a way of doing that. Taking a road we didn't expect but then that is life. And as family we make the best of it. As a writer I empathize with my mother making a change so significant we don't discuss it too much. The decision to let go of the car keys - one of the hardest of a lifetime. My mother's parents never owned a car, never drove. If I felt the day I had my own set of keys and eventually my own set of wheels represented freedom - for her that had to be a kind of rising up and driving out that came from a much deeper place. It represented more than sixteen year old I gotta be me. It represented a rise out of poverty, a way to have a job and keep a job, a success that meant she could buy a little house, build a family, have a little girl that would ride shotgun some day.
And, I did. Those were glorious times. My mother finally bought the car of her dreams. A big Oldsmobile convertible. White with red leather interior. A dream machine. She drove with confidence behind the wheel wearing scarves over her hair and streaming behind her, cat eye sunglasses. She was amazing, looked like a movie star. Riding in that front seat beside her, the sun shinning down, the radio playing, I knew that Mom was in control, that we were traveling down that road, and that all was well with our world.
Now, a blink of an eye later, I'm behind the wheel. She's riding shotgun. And I can only pray that I will exude just a little of that air of confidence she possessed. The kind where she can truly I believe that it's okay. In spite of her home being shifted beneath her feet, her keys having slipped away. That in spite of it all - all is well with the world. That the road before us is a long one. To trust me enough that I do know the way. That life is still a great adventure. We just have to take it one day, one moment at a time.
This year I have determined that I will embrace all the greatest things I know to be true. That human kindness lives in the heart of people in the midst of most things. That our first reaction is not to resort to the lowest of human emotions, responses, reactions but to stretch out a hand to help someone stand. It's what comes natural to our spiritual selves. Or perhaps it triggers something Like the basic choices made in the hit series Westworld. Do you choose the white hat or the black hat for yourself. Do you embrace the power of your own personal choices?
I know a few things more certain than I ever have in my long/short flash of a life. I am so blessed. So thankful. For the love of family, for the love of friends for the truest side of love that matters and is still standing when the rumbles of the past reside. And that I am the grandaughter of Estelle and the daughter of a woman so strong her name pales in comparison to her being. They have shadowed me with their dna. They have birthed me stronger than I ever thought I would become.
And so it is with you. Friends and readers. Stronger than you knew you were. Stronger friends standing by. Stronger daughters, sons, fathers, brothers, mothers. Shouldering one another in times that have challenged your faith, your days your being. We stand together. Period. Let the sides of this and that and all our disagreements fall off the face of the earth for a moment, for night. Go see Rogue 1 and understand that in the history of our lives that great sacrifces have been made that we should be here, free to movie, free to wine and dine, free to embrace and laugh and love. So that we could embrace and laugh and love to the fullest not moan and groan and feed on the kind of whitewash that would lead us into oblivion.
Laugh this year in the face of all and everything. Laugh because the moon still moves through the sky, the stars still fall in tiny, shooting flashes, debre of a million years of light that we look up and see, breathless, in wonder that we are spinning so fast in a vast, dark universe full of mysteries yet unknown.
2017. It holds the thing that yet will be. But you and me. We've got each other. Make eye contract. Hold eye contact. Tell someone something that matters. In the now. The proverbial midnight hour of now or never. The now of always and forever.
And just remember in the coming year. Be that you. :) The real, dear, embracable, fallible, broken, and funny you. More than ever before. Because I assure you that's all that God and the great, good Earth has ever asked or needed you to be. Transparent, real and magnificent in all your broken glory.