When I was a kid, I could never get anything by my mom. She truly did seem to have eyes in the back of her head. Of course, having already raised four boys, by the time I came along, she knew all the tricks I could possibly try.
It also meant she knew when I was troubled. When I cried out in pain, she came running. When I was happy, she was there to share in the joy.
For some reason, her being there made the trouble ease, the pain diminish and the delight greater. Her radar wasn't perfect, mind you. She did flub things up occasionally, but those were rare.
Recently, I saw an example of just how good she can be. It was a Sunday, late in the afternoon; my mom was with brother number two and his family. Quite suddenly, a feeling came over her and she had to be alone.
She moved off to the living room and sat, as pain rippled through her as if a part of her soul was tearing away. She began to cry and my mother is not a woman who easily sheds tears. It's not that she's cold and unfeeling. No, far from it, it's only that the hardships of her youth, the horrors of World War II toughened her. She is truly an iron-willed woman. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've seen her weep.
This day, she cried.
A few minutes later, my brother came looking for her. He'd received the text. He and I, and several members of the family had arranged with the nurse caring for our brother Stephen. She texted us regular updates on his condition; she even included the occasional picture so we could see that he was resting comfortably. Then, that fateful Sunday afternoon, came her last text. My dear brother was no longer in any pain.
I sat there, the television was blaring. I couldn't see it. I was vacant. My mind and body reduced to empty vessels. I couldn't act. I couldn't think. I had no emotions.
A part of me had departed and my soul was trying to reconcile the loss to my being. When at last my mind was working, my thoughts immediately turned to my mother. I had to call my brother. I couldn't speak to her; I knew that.
My emotions would overwhelm me. I also knew that he would have told her. I didn't need to ask that. No, I had to call to know that she was at least able to handle the news. I certainly wasn't going to ask if she was okay, of course she wasn't!
My brother told her of Stephen. She'd kept it together. She already cried, as she already knew. She felt him leave. Like any good mommy, in tune with her babies, she sensed part of her soul leave her body when he departed this world.
When I speak to my mother, she is at peace. Her baby is out of pain. He's with his dad. When next they meet, he'll be healthy.
I envy her that strength. What was that about women being weaker than are men? I don't think so. Any of you big tough fellows want to try taking on my mom. You won't last two minutes! The love of a mother is truly the strongest force in the universe and it imbues them with a power not even death can overcome.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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