I checked my bank account for the fortieth time thinking, “Is it there?” It never was, six months and it still wasn’t there. A single mother at the time, I had to make an emergency move due to my eighteen month old daughter’s consistent illness because of a basement apartment and very old rugs and moss. My US tax returns were due to be deposited in my bank account and I felt confident that that would take the pressure off the extra cost of the move. We moved into a nice place and my daughter’s health returned to normal. But, the tax returns never deposited. It threw us into a financial vise. I obsessively checked the account often to no avail. Six months later the phone rang. It was my aunt informing me that my mother with advanced diabetes had pneumonia and that my brother and I needed to make a decision to let her go. I was living in New Brunswick and my mother was in Massachusetts and I had no money. I called the bank for the one hundredth time, I heard the recorded voice say, $1,028.00. That was my tax return. Two things were amazing about this, one is that it happened just in time for this, fore if I had had it sooner, it would’ve been spent. Two, I wasn’t surprised. Why did I know it would be there? Because deep down inside, I knew I needed to be in Massachusetts. That it was those cliche sayings people say they hate to hear, “It was meant to be.” and “God makes no mistakes.” Its easy to say, that one freak accident means nothing, possibly true, but this story is full of freak accidents and that adds up to something.
My young daughter’s father took her for two weeks and my eleven year old son and I left for Worcester, MA. I drove a three quarter ton truck with a cab on the back, a Chevrolet Silverado. Halfway to Worcester I blew a tire. We made it to the side of the highway. It was August and I was wearing a dress. I looked miffed at the big spare tire bolted under the truck. I had no idea how to change a tire. I didn’t own a cell phone. In the those days, especially in the rural area I was living in, cell phones were unusual. After watching car after car blow by us for forty five minutes. I told my son that I was going behind that tree to talk to God and ask for help. I just needed to take that extra step to connect and got on my knees. I finished and had just reached my son’s side when a pick up truck pulled up. A man and his daughter, the same age as my son, got out. He had a vanity license plate that said, “The Lobster Man”. He had an easy way about him and after setting me at ease, he set to work. It took him 30 minutes to pry the tire that was secured with rusted bolts to the undercarriage of the truck. Even if I knew what I was doing, I didn’t have the strength to do that. I felt bad that it was taking so much of his time. When he was finished, I tried to give some money, but he put his hand up and said, “Absolutely not, its my belief that what comes around, goes around. One day, when I need it, it will come around to me.” I asked for help and God sent me The Lobster Man.
In Worcester, my mother had been non-responsive for several days. Yet, when I took her hand, I said, “Mom, I’m here.”, and she squeezed my hand. After speaking with the doctor it was clear that her prognosis was horrible. Even if miracle of miracles she made it out of her distress, she wouldn’t last and would suffer. Her body had blown up like a whale because her organs were shutting down. The decision was to take her off of life support. We waited to notify everyone. Immediate family stood around the bed. My mother’s cousin told humorous stories of their teenage exploits. Soon laughter filled the room as everyone jumped in with a story. We were so engrossed in the memories that we hadn’t noticed the nurse at first, she repeated, “Excuse me. She’s gone.” My mother’s cousin had a tag with a Catholic saint on it that she pressed into my mother’s palm. As she closed her hand around it she animatedly said, “There’s your ticket Mae, your all set to go, you got your ticket!” That was that, she was gone.
She had made it clear for what she wanted for her funeral arrangements with us a year before. She did not want us to spend money, she didn’t want a wake. She wanted to be cremated and she wanted her ashes spread over the ocean off the coast of Salsbury Beach. We honored her request, but we had a Memoriam. We rented a VFW and put an announcement in the paper. My mother is the polar opposite of me. She was effervescent in personality. She bubbled over with a positive gaiety that most people who met her loved. She was tall, statuesque and had Elizabeth Taylor eyebrows. She dressed elegantly always. Never saw my mother in a pair of jeans. She had carefully styled hair and make up and brightly colored polyester suits. I am a more serious person in personality. I have to work at being lighthearted, whereas for my mother, it was second nature. We wanted to celebrate her life. We wanted her Memoriam to be full of life like she was. We played her favorite music, BB King, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams and displayed pictures and momento’s of her favorite days. I dressed up in a brightly colored fuchsia blouse and black polyester slacks and I did my make up. I flitted and greeted everyone, then sat with a table of women that my mother had worked with at a bank twenty years before and they swore to God that they were sitting with my mother. For that day, I was my mother.
When it came time to take care of her ashes. I was there for just a few more days before I’d have to return to Canada. We set out to Salsbury Beach. We thought the State Park was not a swimming area and would be best to go where the rocks are craggy. But, we thought we should sneak in after the park closed. It being a Saturday night in August it was packed as we drove from the public beach area and amusement park to the State park. It was around 9:30 pm. We got in, my brother, his wife, my son and his two kids, thirteen and fourteen. My mother was in a paper bag. We found the right spot, my brother took Mom to the edge of the water and after we each said a few words, he opened the bag and swung his arm out in a big wide arc to distribute her ashes out across the water. But, just then a big wind came out as waves crashed blowing the ashes back at my brother, some of it in his mouth. Larry spat and spit and we laughed hard. Just then, the fireworks went off at Hampton Beach not far up the coast. This was all my mother. She loved the ocean, she loved fireworks and she loved to laugh. That was exactly how she would’ve wanted it.
My Aunt in Florida had heard of my trouble with the flat tire and she mailed me an old cell phone. She said that even though it wasn’t in service, that I could still call the police with it if I had to. I had the tire plugged and put back on the truck. The next day, we began our trek home. About 30 miles outside of Worcester, the tire went. But, I had that phone and it really did work, I called the police and told them my predicament and could they call my brother, which they did. He came and we bought a tire, then I drove home. I don’t care what anyone says, that whole trip was under divine guidance and nothing will ever convince me otherwise. I seek strength from a Higher Power that I choose to call God. I began this relationship 26 years ago and over the years, there have been many moments like these. I call on that same source of strength to help me stay the course with the Protocol.
I miss my mother, I always will. We know she made it to where she needed to go, because she had her ticket!
Love you Mom
Picture from Angelsta Creation’s: http://angelstarcreations.com/wallpapers/salisbury1440.html