Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Friday afternoon about two.
 I don't usually carry my cell phone, but today,
because it's an assessment day
and because I am in charge of  materials
I have my cell phone in my pocket.
It vibrates and I look down,
wondering who needs what test.
I am surprised, and a little concerned,
to see Son #1's number.
I answer.

"You know how you were going to come down this weekend?"
"It would be ok if you did. I want to go to the game."
I am surprised.
Son #1's team is playing son #2's.
Originally I had planned to go.
Even though both boys are red shirting,
I thought it would be fun
to spend time with my boys.
Two weeks ago, Son #1 told me he was riding the team bus.
I could go if I wanted to,
but he wouldn't be available to spend time with me.
I decided not to go.
Thursday night Son #1 told me he was not going to get to ride with the team.
I could hear the disappointment in his voice and offered again to go.
He said no, he wasn't going.
And now, less than 24 hours before I would need to leave,
he has changed his mind
I can't imagine that I will find a decently priced ticket.
Wonder what I can do with the dog. 
Consider telling him there is no way
I can come
on such short notice.

But then I think
that he so rarely asks for anything
so rarely wants to spend time with me
it would be really nice
to be able to honor his request.
At 5:00 I find a ticket
a kennel that is open all night.
I call and tell him
I will be arriving in Phoenix
at 6:50 on Saturday morning. 

Saturday morning.
My son has 63 cents in his bank account.
And no gas in his car.
I take a shuttle to his apartment. 
We head to the grocery store
I spend $300 stocking his cupboards
and then we head out
to drive
the three hours
to the game.

He drives.
And talks
And somehow in this confined space
my usually silent son
has much to say. 
The first hour is devoted to discussing
his human sexuality course.
The professor, a woman,
is partnered with a man
who used to be a woman.
My son, processing, the whole situation, says,
"It's like the professor knows what she wants us to think.
And she wouldn't be ok if we thought something different."
So you have to be really careful what you say in there."

The second hour we talk about his Evolution class.
That professor, my son thinks,
also has a definite point of view.
And Zay wonders
whether she would give him a bad grade
if he told her what he thinks
about Evolution.
And about Creation.

The third hour
we talk life.
His biological mom.
A friend from high school. 
What it felt like to grow up
in our very non-traditional family.

And I am so thankful
that I have spent money
I didn't really have
on this oh so priceless time
with my son.


Sunday morning.
A tiny town in rural Arizona.
Son #1 and I make a grocery run.
A young woman, probably about my son's age, is the cashier.
I watch her, bent over her register,
long hair covering her face
as we wait for our turn
to check out
of that ugly nasty super center.
I am struck by the cashier's gentle spirit
as she deals with the customer in front of me
who has a thousand coupons,
a million directions about how her order should be packed
and a not very pleasant attitude. 

When the cashier turns her head to greet us,
I see that the left side of her face is badly scarred.
her smile is crooked and off center.
Like she has been in some kind of accident
or perhaps had a tumor removed.
I immediately think of WONDER. 
Remember Augie.
The stares.
People's cruelty.
I imagine that this gentle spirit,
like Augie,
has endured much.

As I type in my zip code, she asks where I am from.
I tell her I live in Denver,
and that Son #1 goes to school in Phoenix.
"I'm from Phoenix," she says,
"I moved out here to go to school
because it's so much cheaper.
Where I was going in Phoenix they charged $78 a credit hour.
Here it's only $880, even if you take 18 hours.
Everything after 12 hours is $880."
She asks my son what he is studying.
"Football," he says, in all honesty,
but then, perhaps for my benefit,
he  corrects himself.
"Football and sociology."

"I like your earrings,"
the cashier says to my son.
"Thanks," he says.
And then, in a move that totally surprises me
mostly because he is pretty quiet
and rarely, as far as I know,
initiates conversations with women
"I like yours too."
I have not noticed her earrings
round ceramic dangles with painted designs

I can't imagine that my son
who is generally completely oblivious
 to anything I wear
would have noticed them. 
She reaches up
and touches her earrings.   
"Thanks," she says
smiling that sweet crooked smile.

We grab our bags, wish the girl a good day,
 and walk away.
I know it's probably silly.
But at that moment
I am so very proud to be the mom
of the man
my son
is becoming. 


Linda B said...

Oh Carol, "priceless" is so true. There are those moments that live in our hearts like no other ones-the tiny ones, not the biggies. I'm glad you found a flight, made the trip, and shared it with us! (Maybe in Oct. we can go for coffee?)

Carol said...

I would love to get together any time. Out of town again this weekend, but after that I don't have any plans until November.

Stacey Shubitz said...

Where do I start when responding to this incredible poem about your weekend? I could begin with the form. I could begin with a comment on how it was worth the money spent and finding a kennel at the last minute. I could begin with a statement about your son and the earrings. But instead I'll go for this: you're an incredible mom. The love you have for your sons (in this case son #1 is who it's mostly about) is so evident throughout your writing.

Thanks for taking us along on the journey with you.

Tammy said...

Love the honesty and description of your sons and the time you have with them. Isn't it hard when they are growing up and away from us. Doesn't it make us so proud to see the men they are becoming. Loved this.

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

This was a poem about love, children, listening, keeping our hearts open, and so much more. So grateful that you sliced today, carol.

Nanc said...

wow...just knew that he would treat her with kindness and respect...he is learning so much and is so genuine because he has been raised by a wonderfully gracious person like you Carol. Thank you for sharing this story. xo

Unknown said...

Thank you for this moving post. A great reminder of how little moments and little exchanges can be so significant. Since it hasn't been too long since I was in school, I will say I was a little sad about his discussion of his classes though- it's unfortunate when kids feel like they can't express their opinions in class.

Ramona said...

So moving. What a challenge to show up on such short notice, but what a wonderful time you shared with your son. Glad to see you here slicing and sharing your tender stories with us.

writekimwrite said...

Your writing touches my heart because you write from the deepest part of yours. I feel honored to read your words and in this way share your journey with your sons. Important life lessons here about what is important standing beside one another and sharing kindness.

Mary Lee said...