I am head over heels in admiration of my Mom, because though she hasn’t always been there for me the way I thought she should, she has actually been silently setting great examples for me as a trailblazer/pioneer.
So far Mom has bought two homes in New York City and three in the state of Virginia while a single mom, worked in the laundry department of a hotel, and without more than a primary school education.
Mom has always loved to walk for exercise, in parks, around her neighborhood, at the beach, until a few months ago. Increasing arthritic pain as well as a spot of Alzheimer’s have slowed her a little but not robbed her of her passion for fun and excitement. She often will mask her memory loss with great wit and mischievousness.
My Mom is my favorite travel partner. She’s a chatter-bug, and has earned the title of social butterfly since she stops to say hello to everyone, pauses to wave at most, hugs strangers especially babies and the elderly. And, what comes out of her mouth is not always, let’s just say, ‘kind’ thankfully only heard by us.
So, on this particular morning, Mom and I were preparing to drive from the oceanfront where we live to make our 2nd visit to the cemetery where she will be buried. For the past few years, she has harassed us to take her to see the 2nd plot she bought, the first being in New York City. While on our way out of the house, this is what I heard:
“Where are we going? why? I’m telling you I used a smaller chair before by you; I’m sure it here somewhere in the house…” to which I replied,
“No mom, you only have one ‘chair’ and it’s by Shaz (Mom’s second daughter), we’ll pick it up on our way back.” Mom replied,
“where are we going, doesn’t Shazmin want to go with us, oh! she worked last night, she must be home resting. When do you go to work, when are you off?” I replied,
“I’m off this weekend.” To which she responded,
“okay, I’ll come back this weekend.”
As I positioned myself in the driver’s seat, my focus was on putting our destination into WAZE, positioning my phone, putting my sunglasses on, positioning my banana for quick bites, turning on the house alarm, even as Mom continued,
“Call Robby (her 55-year old son in the Caribbean) before he goes to work.” I took a very deep breath and pulled out the driveway. As we drove along the highway, Mom notices,
“oh God, they shouldn’t let old people drive, it not safe for them.” I replied,
“just because that man has grey hair doesn’t mean he ole Ma.” A few minutes later, in a frustrated voice,
“Ah don’t know why they have to build them blocks (barrier walls on highways), they just wasting money, it’s a waste of money.” I replied,
“Mom, I told you those walls are to reduce the noise from the highways to the homes.” to which she profoundly replied,
“Well how come everyone doesn’t have it, look see it stopped there!” I gave up, noticing we had but traveled five miles with another thirty to go.
As we approached the tunnel, with about ten miles left to the cemetery, Mom became quiet and pensive, “you all will have a long drive to make…” I realized she was talking about her family driving from the oceanfront to the funeral home on the day of her funeral. I replied, “yeah, well it will give us more time to grieve and talk about you…”
Quickly, I took a peek at her, admiring this beautiful, chic 80-year old in her gold etched straw hat and fashionable tropical wide leg pants with matching solid top and manicured nails sitting next to me, and slowly sadness began to overtake me.
A short while later, we sat at a formal table with a kind and gentle funeral director and proceeded with our funeral pre-arrangement plans for Mom. And there was even a catering menu, which we decided to include. Suddenly, I looked up at Mom, exclaiming, “Oh good there’s SHRIMP, you lovvvve shrimp,” to which Mom replied with some devilish confusion, “Ah go be dead!” Gut wrenching laughter filled the small room as Mom and I joked, and about me slipping her some shrimp on that inevitable day.
We talked about who’ll probably be there and how we’ll sit around and eat and play music and dance and celebrate her (Mom loves to dance), to which she replied, “that will be after I’m buried…you all will dance? You all will be crying!” to which I replied, “Yes, snotty noses and all, you’re right, we’ll be hugging and comforting each other and talking about you before we head back home.”
As we pulled away from the funeral home that day, Mom said, “where’s the plot?” I replied it was across the street. She stated, “let’s go see it.” On our way there, she marveled at all the beautiful flowers on the gravesites, reminding me that her favorite color is purple. She asked me what was my favorite color. I replied it is pink and white.
Then, on that hot ninety degrees day in June 2021, we pulled up once more and I got out of the car to point out the exact spot of her plot. And Mom pointed in the direction she will have to lay in accordance with her faith. And we just sat there awhile before we headed back to the oceanfront.
So, once again this Pioneer of a woman has shown me another important project I need to plan for myself. Just like no one guided her step by step on how to purchase a home(s), somehow, innately, she has figured out for herself another important milestone that she needed to take care of, only this time I’m her Event Planner!!
More to come…