A Wink From The Sky
Sometimes a birthday can set you hovering above, and looking over, your life. And sometimes I want to be released or cleansed of something from the past that still blots the expanse of scenery.
I took last Friday off to celebrate the start of my 64th year, and spent it in my favorite spot by the lake in Prospect Park. While there, I went a bit deeper than I had expected.
This is about my mother dying when I was still a kid of fifteen. I was very close to this smart and scared and beautiful woman, and we never got to say goodbye. She knew she was suffering, and slowly disappearing, and, according to what happened with many women at the time, was never informed as to why. The Big C was a big secret. And this is a long story…for another day.
The point is, just at the time that I was starting to feel my adolescent oats, and beginning a healthy rebellion from her over-protective apron strings, she was yanked from me. Months before she died, my father had enrolled me as a co-conspirator in what we kept from her. So suddenly I could no longer be real with my mom about anything.
And last Friday, for an extended moment, the sky overcast with a hundred shades of gray, and the swans swimming and the ducks ducking, there appeared there above the lake a break in the clouds, revealing a brief relief of sky. And the soft cottony tufts appeared to me like my mother’s fair cheeks, and somehow I actually felt her presence.
Her image came to me vividly and suddenly I could see so clearly what my father had fallen in love with so long ago – the soft beauty, the rigorous smarts, the vulnerable, fragile grownup child.
And before her, I stood still sad with all we didn’t get to say to each other, and how I would never get to regard her as an adult, as a man. And how I never got to tell her all I carried so heavily inside.
And so speak I did…
Mom, there was so much that was left unsaid between us. And some of that, I must say, was how mad you made me at times. Oh God, did you ever piss me off! And how I never got a chance to find the courage as a man to tell you all this as an equal and to your face.
But beneath that, and more important, is how exceedingly grateful I am to you for all you gave me – not the least of which was the gift of life! But also how you gave me Judaism and tried to civilize this rambunctious child, and instill in me a love of learning and consideration for others. And taught me how to care for myself as if my well being truly mattered.
And how eternally sad I am that I never got the chance to thank you for all you gave me, and say it right from my heart.
Mom, I’d like to think that right here, by this lake, and beneath this sky, on this solitary day out of time, you might, in some way, hear me now, and here, receive my thanks, because I could not possibly feel it any deeper, and right now you could not possibly feel any closer. And to think this now is a true relief.
Right before I turned to go, I had one final image of her. She appeared before me as young and beautiful as I’d ever known her to be, and, giving me a knowing grin and a wink, she gestured with her thumb to an image of Shelley. It was as if to say, You got a good one there, kid! I’m happy for you!
It was a blessing I had never had the chance to receive from her.
I walked out of the park on Friday much lighter than when I had arrived.