Courage at Twilight: When You Walk Through the Door

My son John and his wife Alleigh invited me to join them on a trip to visit their aunt Jeanette—my sister—in the Arizona desert.  Of course, my two-month-old grandson Henry would be coming, and he would not just be with us but would be the center of everyone’s excited attention.  In the last eight months, I have not left Mom and Dad for more than one night, and on this trip I would be gone seven.  Before leaving, I emptied the upstairs freezer then restocked it with food they could cook while I was away.  I even drew a rough diagram showing them which foods were on which parts of each freezer shelf.  For example, the bottom shelf had (from left to right) beer-battered cod, lima beans, mixed vegetables, four chicken breasts in bags of two each, and Impossible-brand plant-based “chicken” nuggets.  Excited for their beans and franks, they left the hot dogs in the refrigerator.  “Don’t worry.  We’ll be fine,” Mom reminded me.  I called her mid-week to report our outing to the Superstition Mountains where we saw a large yellow-diamond rattlesnake with five rattle segments, and a gray-blue Peregrine Falcon skimming red outcroppings on the cliff walls, and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum with acres of cacti, succulents, yuccas, and trees from the world’s deserts, and how much I loved the tall strange Boojum tree and the huge unlikely endangered Saguaro and the skeletal Cholla and Ocotillo, and how John and I saw a vivid orange-and-black Hooded Oriole and fantastically-scarlet Cardinal.  “I miss you,” Mom brooded.  “I love it when I hear the door nob turn, and the door open, and your footsteps down the hall, and I love to see you walk into the room with your briefcase and your lunch bag.  I just love having you here.”  Such affection so freely offered, and me stammering an awkward, “Thanks, Mom,” not adept at receiving or expressing such depths, but still marveling at the love and acceptance and absence of judgement at my weaknesses and joy my mother pours out onto this 57-year-old son of hers, and no less upon my five younger siblings.  How lucky am I—are we.  And when I asked what they had cooked for their dinners, she described the chopped frankfurters mixed with cans of pork-and-beans and stewed tomatoes—the epitome of hardy simplicity.  Returning home after my week abroad, I found the food in the freezer largely as I had left it, the easier now for me to cook.  Sarah had brought milk and eggs and Easter treats both savory and sweet.  And Mom had been right: I need not have worried.  “Welcome home.”

(Pictured above: Sis, Yours Truly, and Mr. Boojum)

(Pictured below: Cactus gardens at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and in the Superstition Mountains outside Phoeniz, AZ.)

 

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