It felt as though I had just been kicked in the stomach by an angry mule. The causation of this dissatisfying feeling was not born from anything sinister nor purposeful. In fact, it was quite the innocuous encounter that sparked this whole thing off…
I was stood at the register, waiting for my total to be read to me so that I could go home and begin a late dinner. The cashier, a polite young fellow (yes, I’m old enough to use such terms now) was robotically slicing my procurements across his countertop and then placing them into an awaiting bag. While doing so, he engaged me with superfluous yet cordial chit-chat. First, a commentary about the improving weather conditions that we had been experiencing. Then, a begrudging eyeroll at the Toronto Maple Leafs and their early departure from the post season. And finally, an unwittingly poignant question:
“So, what’s on the agenda for Mother’s Day, got big plans?”
I felt stunned like a boxer who had been the recipient of a stiff jab. I stumbled through my response but managed to spit out, “No, no big plans. Likely just take it easy.”
“What?! No plans?? It’s Mother’s Day, you gotta take your mom out to dinner at least, no?”
Stunned with a right hook…
“Ha, yeah… uh… my mum… she’s a bit far away.”
“Ah, gotcha. Well, phone her at least. It’s her day, right?”
I listened as the chime of the computer boasted my final tally. I paid the young man, grabbed the bag and left after smiling politely. I walked through the sliding doors and into the cool night breeze. With each step I took, a nagging claw tried to hold me in place. Like wading through the thick mucous of an untamed bog. I don’t know why I said that she was simply far away… I really don’t know why I was unable to orate that my mum was no longer around and that Mother’s Day has thus taken on new meaning to me and those like me. I mean, it’s none of his business, sure. But why the fable? I’m just not sure.
I was able to keep walking despite the ghostly call to halt. I knew one thing, I had to take the long way home—I was not quite ready to go back to the silence of my apartment. I trudged along the shadow-laden pathway. Thoughts of my response and visualizations of my now absent mother swirled in a painful fog throughout my thinking space. Before I knew it, my breathing was spastic and wild. I was on the verge of tears without ever being warned of such. This did cause a cessation of movement from me. With rusted limbs, I stuttered to a stop. Introspectively I demanded calm and return of composure. It worked. I was able to instead fixate on the crawling bead of sweat that descended my neckline. I walked a few more feet before coming to rest on a well-kept tree-stump. I sat beneath the canvas of shadow and night and wished that tomorrow could be different. That it could all be different. But it’s not…
Mum, I miss you.
I was asked recently by a friend, that if given the choice, whom would I like to sit down with and have dinner with. The stipulations were that this figurative person could be alive or dead, famous or not so much, historical or fictional—who would it be? My answer was simple; you, mum—you.
I would sit you down and take you in with my eyes. I would ensure a lasting image of you was to be carried with me for the remainder of my days. I would then smile, wipe away whatever tear may have unlawfully invited itself to me, and proceed to tell you how much I love you. How grateful I am to have had you as my dear ol’ mum. I would thank you for stepping in when my father was taken away. I would give you praise for fighting so hard to face and conquer cancer, not once, but three separate times. I would explain just how much I admired your seemingly endless courage and grit. But mostly, I would just sit back and enjoy your company for as long as I was able.
The young cashier is right; today is your day. So, Happy Mother’s Day, mum. I miss you. I love you. I wish you peace and respite from all the worldly things that weighed so much.
One proud boy. A humbled man. A bereft son and a grateful, Matty-Watt!