Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Cabin


My mother and my grandmother and I  were sitting on the porch of a cabin in the woods. The cabin reminded me of our trips to Sequoia National Park when I was a kid.

The air was fresh and a crisp breeze would start to chill until the forest canopy would let a ray of sunshine down to warm us back up. The light played in the beautiful forest branches and the leaf strewn floor.

 The sunlight would hit my mother's face and she almost glowed, I was struck by how incredibly beautiful and radiant she looked. My grandmother sitting to my right, my mother to my left. I hadn't seen my grandmother in years and just sitting next to her again, I could feel her love for me. It was a palpable sensation and one I'd missed for all those years. The three of us again, I missed those days and everything about us. 

My mother and grandmother were both very strong women. Both had Masters degrees in Education and notable careers as educators for many years. When we were together, we laughed a lot.  My grandmother was a great storyteller. When they flanked and converged on me, it was a force not unlike an "El Nina" on the California coast.  A setup to set me straight.

My mother was telling me. "You have to be ok with this and you will go on with your life"  and I said to her. 

"No. I'm not ok with this"

 I argued my point like a well-prepared defense attorney. This was not in the cards. At no time in my life had I ever possibly conceived of such events. Too much had already happened and this was just more than I could handle and I knew it. 

The answer is no and I'm not giving in. 

This argument went on for some time. I was prepared to be right. My grandmother would just look at me like she always did, prepared to let me fall all over myself.  Historically, I followed my own path, often a path full of resistance, mistakes and lessons learned in the fallout. 

I remember doing everything I could to belabor my point because I wanted this argument to drag out. I sensed that time was fading and I wanted to waste it. I wanted every last minute I could steal in this place with these women. I was transparent to them. They knew what I was doing. I knew it was ending. 

My mother sitting to my left, finally turned to me with a look like she saw right through me and said in all seriousness  "I can't stay here much longer Val, you will have to be ok with this".

 My grandmother looked at me and I knew they were leaving, my mother would have the final word as she always had. Then they were gone. 

She had died weeks before and my grandmother had died several years before. This conversation took place in a dream after my mother died.  Distinctly real in every sense, down to being able to actually feel the warmth of the sun and the mild breeze.   My mother and grandmother had come to say, Good-bye. 

My mother knew she left too soon. She knew she left me when I needed her and knew my life could hang precariously in the balance.   She came back only once shortly after this to speak directly to me again with words that changed the course of my life forever.  Three little words that brought light into a world that was starting to dim again.   A life, she saved not long after her own had ended. She gave me the wonderful, incredible life and the direction I have today. In some ways, it had been in the cards all along. 

This time of the year, the anniversary of my mother's death is often sad.  I retreat silently inward, I alienate people and then I move past it.   I try not to revel in it too long and each year it seems a bit easier.  I miss her beyond expression.  I try to live my life to make her proud of me. I try to honor her memory by living my life to the fullest. Not living in fear-based moments but in one of discovery and celebration of a wonderful life.  I've come a long way from being the motherless daughter with a chip on her shoulder.  Time did heal much, but I'm still not ok with it. 

Someday, my mother, grandmother and I will be back on that porch on a sun kissed morning laughing about this story and our fleeting worldly existence. Then they'll probably critique my grammar.