Thursday I told you what I did two weeks away from home in 1976. And I told you why I did it. I expanded it with an analogy to the UFO I spotted that week (someone else was wandering far from home) and I anchored it with a hospitalized mother. Those two elements provided context for a ten-year old’s adventure.
Three days ago I told my mom about that moment in my life. I looked her in the eye and said, “you’re going to learn something about your son. You’re going to hear something new. I’m going to tell you what I did that time you were sick.”
On Easter 1976, my mom was preparing to host our extended family for the day’s dinner. Her stomach began to hurt badly, but there were a million things to do, and of all days, it had to happen today? She agreed to lay down for a moment. That turned into an emergency room visit. In the end, she had most of her lower intestines removed, and her three sons were temporarily sent to different relatives’ homes while dad focused on mom.
45 years ago a 45 year-old faced one of the worst moments of her life. When we, her family, were reunited a few weeks later, we were just jubilant she was all right. Two months later she was hosting my friends for my 11th birthday, and in September she was dancing at my sister’s wedding.
In all the joy of recovery, I never told her of my adventure. There was no cause to tell her. I was just a kid, I didn’t know how wrong it had been, what I’d done. I decided last weekend, now was the time for her to know.
She listened, patiently and wordlessly. When I was done, she said, “Oh, my.” I said, mom could you imagine if someone told you at the time: “Right now your son is wandering three miles from your sister’s house on Glenwood Road. And no one knows about it.”
The Russian story goes, “Everything’s stupid when it fails.” With my being okay that week, it’s easy to think that my three wandering walking days were really no big deal. Maybe so. Some foolish things don’t fail. That’s what we call luck.
To be able to share these thoughts with mom is a blessing. She would hold my hand today as fiercely and as firmly as she held it the day she had all those tubes in her and couldn’t speak to me. She has a grip with the strength given by her mother, who had seen much more difficulty in the old country. I am fortunate to be a beneficiary of such a grip.