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Reflections in a timeless mirror

Posted: May 11, 2013 - 11:39am

Mother’s Day has always been a unique time of reminiscence for me.

I celebrate its arrival each year by opening an exclusive cerebral file from which I select an irreplaceable moment to relive in detail.

Reflections range from the “Queen for a Day” parties we held for her as children to the loving contents of a myriad letters and pictures she forwarded to far-flung military installations to ease any loneliness I might feel.  

This year I am commemorating her last trip to our home when I was given a matchless gift that only a mother and son could share.

It went something like this…

The day after she arrived, Alaska’s summer made its official entrance snuggled in a blanket of deep overcast skies.

As we walked the beach, scattered raindrops sought sanctuary amongst layers of weather polished stones.

The wind remained unfazed by the new season’s intrusion and refused to awaken and stretch itself across the bay. Thus, the waves slumbered late sanctioning mirrored images of glaciers rather than the intricate dance of white caps on an uneasy sea.

Mom treasured quiet Alaskan mornings where the only sounds floating skyward were the calls of common loons crying out in search of an echo.

She and I had visited this special shoreline ten years ago when she brought my father’s ashes back to the land he loved so much. It was here that his symbolic journey began upon an outgoing tide while eagles swept low as if in a salute to a departing warrior.

She then returned to Washington and a core of loved ones where family reunions still had four generations sharing highland campgrounds and ancestral stories late into the eve. It was a place where the young brought excitement and pride to the clan and elders were held in esteem.

As the river of time slowly drifted her toward her own spiritual departure, she often spoke about her desire to relive that singular moment with me during the ebbing tide.

Unfortunately, the ravages of arthritis escorted by ancillary maladies kept pre-empting her return thus we began turning our conversations more toward the family news and times gone by.

As she spoke, the world raced backward and I was once again a child listening with rapt attention as tales unfolded encompassing everything from a hard-scrabbled farm life to the tribulations associated with World War II. I could only marvel at the steel persona and the sacrifices of those struggling through such a challenging epoch.

She had a wonderful way of replaying her life to us even though I thought it would have been nice if she would have done a bit more editing on some of my numerous and embarrassing youthful indiscretions. Why is it that mothers can remember every scratch, bruise and bump that you’ve ever suffered along with what dim-witted thing you were doing to incur it? I could have turned some interesting scars into valiant tales if it hadn’t been for her absolute recall and admonitions to tell the truth.

Her deep affection for kith and kin taught us moral principles and loyalty while her counsel gave us insight to forge ahead during our personally troubling times.

Mother sometimes fretted because our little family seemed to always fall just short of being able to touch the gleaming coins resting at the end of life’s ever evasive rainbows.

True, there were no fancy cars, upscale houses nor trips around the world but there was still an unequalled treasure. The love, veneration and deepest respect from two children who now stand tall in life because of the family foundation afforded us.

I always felt lucky to stay close throughout the years with visits to Washington and frequent phone calls especially since they were not relegated to, “Reach out and touch someone,” on Mother’s Day. They were made frequently to keep our family ties strong sharing hilarious family gossip and sometimes grief or a simple tête-à-tête just hear each other’s voice.

Our last phone conversation was to let her know I was coming.

She was patient, as usual, and awaited my arrival. I returned to Alaska a few days later.

I said nothing as I stepped into the outgoing tide because nothing had been left unsaid. I walked alone with only her soul beside me this time. Instead of her hand, I held her ashes as she waited to rejoin the love of her life of more than fifty years.

As I stopped, I sensed him with us. I felt a comforting peace and saw his smile reflected in the sparkling waves as I tenderly guided her into his embrace.

They were home and so was I.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.

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