I spent the last three days helping my mom move. I live in Seattle and she lives in Florida, so it is a little more complicated than just putting on your moving clothes, grabbing the extra boxes and heading over to pack, sort, move, and unpack. So, somehow by the grace of God, I found a flight that used my airline mileage in the middle of holiday travel season and I was on my way. Through a series of mishaps (I’ll never understand why an airplane can arrive at a gate and have no jet way) I missed my connecting flight. So I spent the day visiting the airports of Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Orlando, just to find out that my rental car was no longer available to make the 1-1/2 hour drive to Indian Beach Harbour. My goal was to arrive with a smile on my face, no matter what. I packed my carry-on with lots of music on my laptop and iPod, brought stimulating and engaging reading material (La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life), confirmed that double pointed knitting needles don’t constitute a weapon of mass destruction, and worked on my sprint intervals as I ran from gate to gate in hope of catching the elusive assigned flight. My night vision was tested as I drove in the pitch black darkness, unable to see any landmarks (not that I would recognize them anyway) as I juggled paying the tolls with one hand and holding the map under the reading light with the other. I finally made my arrival about 10 hours after my expected arrival, but in welcoming form, my mom had dinner ready that she somehow managed to cook while working and maintaining her packing frenzy. What a welcome alternative to the two breath mints and coffee that I had subsisted on as I ran from airport gate to airport gate. We split a bottle of wine and stayed up late as we talked about her pending move (a mere 4.5 miles away) and what was new in my life.
For the next three days we spent the days deep cleaning, organizing, moving car loads of fragile and breakable objects. It was no accident that the first order of business was to set up the CD player and so that we could have a soundtrack to our work. Each evening we ate together, shared stories, fell into a daily pattern of accomplishment and I wondered why we couldn’t have this type of closeness on a regular basis? As boxes were packed, my mom’s closet held both dread and intrigue for me. My mom is an expert high-end label shopper and she can go into any thrift store and pick out the high end valuable merchandise for just pennies or a few dollars. This is true in women’s apparel, porcelain collectibles, purses, etc. Her Achilles heel: she just can’t pass up a steal of a deal. She has set up a successful sideline business on eBay reselling such items, but some she just can’t bear to part with. Thankfully, she had disciplined herself to re-donate a large portion of her collection, but there was still an opportunity to do some dress-up. We wear basically the same range of sizes in clothing and shoes and although my tastes are more conservative, she is a great saleswoman. When I was younger, I would resist her insistence of breaking out of the mold and refuse to cooperate. She pulled out the variety of winter coats she had not been able to part with. (Did I mention that she lives in Florida, a tropical climate?) I modeled a sapphire blue long-hair Rachel Zoe type jacket and sent photos to my teenage daughter in hopes she would want me to update her wardrobe, but alas she is more conservative than me. I finally ended up taking home a vintage curly lamb’s wool black jacket, classic and more appropriate for the Seattle climate. My suitcase expanded with a few collectible plates and small purses for those opera evenings. To see the joy in my mom’s face that these items would find a good home made all the holiday travel worth it.
After I modeled miniskirts and selected a silk chemise, we packed the rest up for Goodwill and moved onto a few other boxes in the back of the closet. I found a small yellow thermal covered container, the type that usually holds a six-pack of beverages and opened it. Inside were various photographs of us as kids, cards that we had made as children for Mother’s Day, a collection of mementos. My mom caught my eye and said, “You bet you though I didn’t keep those things? I remember and cherish all of my children even though you might not think so.” Deep down inside I knew she did, but it was still good to hear her say it and see the evidence. You’re never too old to be your mother’s child.