Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Woman In The Van ~ A Mother's Day Story

I noticed her right away
I sat in my car at the large local nursery, eating my lunch and preparing to face the unbelievable crowd of shoppers this Mother's Day eve. Folks filed by with wheelbarrows full of mulch, potting soil, blooms and hanging baskets of pretty things all ready to deliver to moms near and far. But she...well...she looked so frail and thin walking across the parking lot towards my car. I imagined her to be at least eighty, maybe older, white thin hair, pale and very small-boned.  She carried a large pocketbook in one hand and a single small potted plant in the other as if she knew exactly what she was going to do with that spray of blooms. Her own mother must be long gone, I mused. I wonder if she's going to take it to the cemetery. She looked so sad and alone to me.  Maybe I should get out and make sure she gets where she's going, she looks a little wobbly....and then I saw another woman coming from around the back of the van the lady was approaching, the vehicle directly in front of mine. We were grill to grill, windshield to windshield in the parking lot. 

 They resembled each other. The youngest had her hair in a ponytail, a middle-aged properly combed ponytail. She was strong-boned and able. Without a word she led the small lady to the passenger side, opened the door and helped her in. It must have been her daughter. Yes, her daughter.  They sat down right in front of me.

Well, I'm glad she's OK, I thought. What a sweet little woman she appears to be.
I started to gather my things, throwing little purse into big purse, makeup bag into zipper, camera flung around my neck and mentally thinking which plant aisle I wanted to visit first.  The ferns sure look nice and healthy today. Before I opened the door to make my way into the Mother's Day madness, I happened to glance at the van once more, hoping they had moved away so that I could pull into the space and not have to back out later. And that's when my whole carefully planned day dissolved.

There they sat in front of me like a magic outdoor movie screen, still not saying a word to each other and completely unaware of my gazing curiosity. The elderly lady opened a bottle of blue-labeled bottled water and drank from it. And then the ponytailed woman opened a package of what appeared to be yogurt and began to feed her, sitting there in the parking lot of plants, one spoonful at a time. Her mother opening her mouth like a little bird, trusting the hand that fed her as if they'd done it a million times in reverse. Neither one talked. Just one nourishing the other and oh, how the eyes of the ponytailed woman filled up with love each time the spoon was lifted. I saw it so clearly in the voyeuristic windshield. It was a well-rehearsed dance between one who loves and one who is loved - except by the time the feeding was done I couldn't tell who loved the most. All I knew was that I had to look away before they saw me crying, before I spoiled their peaceful day, before I broke down completely into something akin to witnessing a sacred moment I probably shouldn't have seen, but one so tender it touched me to the core and filled me up. 

 No one's mother experience is the same. Not all people kept the mothers that birthed them. Not all mothers know where or how their children lived out their lives or what became of them. I think about and worry about those women on a day like today.  Some people have mothers who mothered who weren't their mother you know. Those are like the two in the van, only with two sets of heritage and two sets of memories; we can't tell the difference because the love is so palpably real. Both sets of circumstances have merit in the journey of a life.  Just because a day is assigned for mothers does not make it Mother's Day for everyone. And that is each person's personal cross to bear. I have flowers firmly planted in the roots of Bloggingham that remind me of my mother and all that is delicate and beautiful about her. The blooms are ever changing but always strongly rooted.  Sometimes we have buckets of good memories to share and give back, sometimes all we have is a spoonful.  But all of us can say thank you for giving me life.

I don't know how many spoonfuls of trust were exchanged in the lives of these two women.  But I know there were enough. 
And that was a very fine thing to watch.

My mother's azalea bush in bloom 2013

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Anonymous said...

Synchronicity... and another inspiring post. I feel the familiar spoonfuls of trust and yes.. they are enough.

The azalea's are beautiful!

Akelamalu said...

What a poignant moment to witness. I love the azalea.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

A story as beautiful as your mother's azalea bush, in full bloom to honor her memory.

Travis Cody said...

I love when you observe and report like this.

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