My latest adventure behind the Orange Curtain begins on the doormat of cancer.
On Cinco de Mayo, mi madre had her first dose of chemotherapy to reduce the unwanted, unwelcomed tumor in her breast, hence the new name Chemo de Mayo, or Chemosabi as she will call it occasionally.
This Mother’s Day, more than wanting to attend family brunch(es), I wanted alone time with mom. I arranged for us to go to Unity church in the morning. I would grab coffee and scones and meet her in the meditation garden for a chat before going inside.
We’ve had a rocky relationship, my mom and I. We’ve had “bury the hatchet” rituals, heart to heart talks and still we can push each other’s buttons like no one else. But with equal intensity, we can touch each other’s hearts.
When she found out she had cancer, mom set a goal for herself that after she “climbed this cancer mountain” she will climb Macchu Picchu. I will join her. For inspiration, I had my boys draw pictures of this sacred mountain and write a message. Kobe wrote, “I know you can beat cancer Nana. I believe in you.”
Skyler copied these lines. “And in my hour of darkness, she’s standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom… Let it Be.” I printed photos of them with their Nana and let them choose the mating color, frame and lay-out of picture and photograph.
Sitting in a white gazebo surrounded by roses, set back a bit from the walkway, I gave her the presents. She pulled back the newspaper wrapping of Kobe’s gift and burst into tears.
Now my mom has a habit of wiping her tears and flicking them at you when you make her cry. It’s a little like she’s happy that you understand her enough to touch her heart and a little freaked out that she’s that vulnerable. She breathes shakily for a few minutes – waves her hands in front of her face. Looks around surreptitiously, flicks me a few tears then opens the next one.
She wipes the fresh tears and looks around again, embarrassed. Then with the strength of Atlas, shrugs the world from her shoulders. “Oh, who cares?”
I smile at her courage to be genuine in a truly difficult moment.
She caresses the picture. “How did he know?” Apparently after my dad left and my mom was scared and alone with two kids at 21 she played the Beatles’ Let it Be constantly to help her through.
“I don’t know. They created these all on their own.”
“I would have micro-managed this project,” she says, as if I don’t know how controlling she can be. “But you just let your kids be free-spirits, like you. I love that about you.”
Now my eyes fill with tears. My bids for the carefree and gypsy road have often been misunderstood, but maybe all along there was admiration hidden in there somewhere.