I call my mother every day around 9:00 AM whether it’s during the week or on the weekend. I often call her, but after my dad passed away, it became more of a routine. In fact, I look forward to it even though we don’t often have a lot to talk about. She lives in Myrtle Beach and I live in New York. Although we travel to see each other a couple of times a year, it’s still not a lot.
Today it was around 2:30 in the afternoon when she called me. I almost didn’t answer because I was in the middle of something at work, but then I freaked out. She never called unless there was something wrong. It was like that call you get at midnight when you answer with “who died?”
When I answered she sounded like she’d done something wrong and I was reminded of my own childhood voice of shame when I’d broken something.
“I fell today.”
“What? What happened?”
“I was at Publix and went to walk by a car parked near the front and I tripped on the curb. It was painted yellow, but I didn’t see it.”
“Are you ok? Did you go to the hospital?”
“No. I laid there for a few minutes and someone from the store came rushing out to check on me. She asked about calling an ambulance and I told her I didn’t know if I needed one.”
“Oh mom. I’m sorry. I wish I was there to help you.”
“There were a lot of people helping. The dummy in the car tried to run me over! Another woman yelled at him.”
“Do you think you might have broken something?”
“No. I’m just going to have a nasty bruise on my knee. I’ve got ice on it now.”
She sounded irritated. As if the inconvenience was more painful than the injury.
My mother is a country girl and grew up on a farm where she fed chickens, milked cows and played in the fields. She’s not afraid of anything, including a very large snake that decided to take residence in our lawn one day. Mom picked it up with my whiffle ball bat and threw it over the hill at the edge of our property.
Listening to the tinge of fear in her voice made my heart ache. And the worst part is that I’m so far away from her. Even if I could have helped, I wouldn’t have been able to get there very fast. She has family around her who love her, but they’re not me. I’m the one who takes care of things. I should be there.
If all goes well, I’m planning to retire from my company in seven years and move South to be close to my mother. Until then, I’ll call every day and make every effort to be with her so I can make sure she doesn’t trip over any more curbs.