From the time Kelley was a young child, I’ve been praying for the person she will someday marry. It’s not as weird as it sounds. I didn’t know who it would be, or when they would meet, but I have been praying for the safety and protection of this kind person, with a strength of character, and generous heart made just for my girl.
As my daughter Kelley is busy quailing about the prospects of her immediate future, one dominated by homesickness, below zero temps, and bouts of solitude, there is a rather buoyant secret swirling in the air, imbued with the intoxicating aroma of love, mystique, and God help us, a flutter of reservations.
Without love, what are we worth? Eighty-nine cents! Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals walking around lonely. M*A*S*H, Hawkeye
After arriving home from Boston a few days ago, beseeched by a pounding headache, nausea, and two swollen feet, I greet my long lost son from Australia, whose scheduled stay in Campbell is a measly four days. Despite the despairing circumstances I remain intent on securing my allotted time with Tony. I have to say, with nobility beyond his years, he sat next to his ailing mother for an entire day, without a single complaint. That’s all breeding mind you!
There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before. Henry David Thoreau
Sick as a dog I try to refrain from moaning as I languish on the couch, fire roaring, television glowing softly in the background. There are lines of questions I was hoping to pursue with my boy, discussions to engage in, valuable lessons to grapple with, but I don’t have the stamina to chase a single one. I’m sure Tony misses my latent intentions but is throughly enjoying his oddly silent mother.
What I find most disturbing about Valentine’s Day is, look, I get that you have to have a holiday of love, but in the height of flu season, it makes no sense. Lewis Black
The flu is sort of tricky with a broken foot and all, one is forced to be a little preemptive when it comes to arriving on time to the toilet, calculating distance, limp factor, and available receptacles. Not unlike the complications of air travel but with much more urgency. I’ve classified the flu as a rather callous son of a bitch, like truth, it does not care about circumstance.
Thanking my lucky stars, I was only down for twenty-four hours, the relief upon waking without debilitating nausea can only be liken to winning the lottery, or finding a loop hole in the tax code. I am cautiously overjoyed.
My heart is so happy when Tony is home, it’s as if the umbilical cord is somehow woven back together, and my child is once again chained to my side, where he belongs. If I have him for only a short time, I choose to ignore my ticking heart, as if a wayward timer, that rings when the thing is most raw. I’m a little luny when it comes to my children. Sorry, not sorry.
Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. George Burns
Tony is happy (damn), in love, doing relevant work, and has a strong fellowship in Australia. What more could a parent want? Well access for one, less of a time difference for another, and clearly scheduled visits. Not that we’re prisoners waiting for time in the yard with our boy, but I’m feeling the rigid restraints of my child living abroad, it’s totally overrated.
A word, once sent abroad, flies irrevocably. Horace
So just as I’m getting the goods on Tony’s inner most feelings (not), I receive an encrypted text from my daughters boyfriend Tim, asking Larry and I to call when we have some time? I’m no Sherlock Holmes but clearly something’s it up?
From the minute Larry walks in the door, I hound him until he rings Tim on his cell, puts him on speaker, and inquires as to the current status of his health? What the hell? I’m like, “Tim, what’s up?” Ever so casually Tim asks if it would be possible for us to return to Boston next weekend, no pressure, if it works with our schedules? What the hell is right? I’m not a millennial, our travel is strategically calculated to fit precisely between long stretches of standardized living, we do not just peregrinate on a whim. One wants to appreciates the nuances of travel, not die from it.
In rare form Larry skips to the office to secure our passage back to Boston? I’m left to wonder if he’s in shock, septic, or hallucinatory? Maybe all three. We’re confirmed, along with our daughter Julie, on a red-eye flight out of San Francisco in three days. It’s not easy to admit but I’m slightly damaged goods, and yes, some like to refer to me as a hinderance, but everyone in my group gets to pre-board, so there’s that. I have some laundry to do but clearly no need to diet. #FluBenefits
As Tony exits our lives, tears happen, long hugs, and a memorable last glance where I silently demand his safe return, it might be unspoken, but it has extraordinary prescience.
Meanwhile, as the skies over North America darken, I find myself sequestered in the middle seat between my daughter and a nondescript young man intent on hogging the entire armrest. I’m unable to sleep, I consider it a moral failure, I watch two entire movies, while simultaneously elbow wrestling my neighbor, he remains unruffled, and in possession of our mutual rest. Whatever.
If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days. Sylvia Plath
Exhausted, experiencing total deja vu, we land in beautiful Boston as if we were just there. Oh yeah, we were. It’s approximately 7:45 am. We taxi to the Marriott, worried Kelley might be out jogging, and spot us giggling like teenagers in the backseat of a yellow cab. Sleep is my first priority, although I secretly wanted to call my daughter, and give her a heads up (grab a manicure, wash your hair, iron your favorite blouse).
By the grace of God Larry scores a room at 7:45 in the morning, it’s amazing what a platinum status will get you, and they upgrade us to a suite. Julie and I pass out on the heavenly bed after lowering the blackout shades, Larry takes off for the Elite Lounge (he slept the entire flight), the place where platinum people go to be seen. It’s a real thing.
Four hours later we are abruptly awakened by the platinum guy, scrambling for showers, blow dryers, and wrinkled clothing, we ready ourselves to roll by noon. Again the timing is tricky. As Tim is trying to get Kelley out of the apartment, we’re trying to get in, set up some celebratory items, and await their return. Of course smooth is not the word I would use to describe this complicated process ~ jumbled might be more descriptive.
Larry, Julie and I walk (me limp) to the Italian market just blocks from Kelley’s apartment, we purchase said celebratory items, and proceed towards the Back Bay walk-up, but apparently Kelley decides on a last minute change of clothes? Sauntering along the sidewalk, in broad daylight, adjacent to their home, we are not exactly incognito. Forced to duck into a dive bar, so as to remain undetected, we are obliged to order adult beverages while waiting out the wardrobe change. Winning.
Slipping stealthy into the house after Tim’s “all clear” text, we join his parents, and sisters nervously awaiting their return. A total nail biter.
The arms of love encompass you with your present, your past, your future, the arms of love gather you together. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Airfare $800, new lipstick $25, a heavenly bed $225, the look on your daughter’s face when she walks through the door, priceless, there are some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s MasterCard. It was as if her eyes could not believe the familia view, they well up, her hand flies to her mouth, and she says, “How is it possible you are all here?”
Larry (smart-ass), “We never left.”
Ditching our reserve, we dissolve into hugs, tears, and congratulatory toasts. To love is so startling that it leaves little time for anything else says Emily Dickinson. We may have reared our children on opposite sides of the country, but they found each other, and as Emily Bronte claims, “whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
Our joy is contagious, we take it with us to dinner, and then on to the cannoli bar. Tim really pulled one off, Kelley had absolutely no clue, her joy evident from head to toe, well that, and a ring of rocks newly displayed on her wedding finger. I believe her engagement ring has become her favorite accessory.
Now that I’m practically a resident of Boston I don’t want to leave, I want to stay and enjoy the morning sun as it shines through the bay window in her office, I want her to tell me the story again and again, how he got down on one knee, holding his heart in his hand, and said “will you marry me?” How she said “yes” and then asked if he could do it just one more time? How she cried when she realized the enormity of the question, and the story they will tell for the rest of their lives about the people gathered in that small flat, in Back Bay, whose Mother’s prayer has been graciously answered.
A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short. Andre Maurois
- You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. Khalil Gibran
- A man without a wife is like a vase without flowers. Unknown
- Grow old with me! The best is yet to be. Robert Browning