Thursday, September 28, 2017

Leaving Home

Leaving Home
By Michael Cannata  

He was moving… again. He spent the entire afternoon telling her all the details. That she never heard a word didn’t matter. For the first time in his life, his mother would not be a part of the move.

He remembered the first time he left home. He felt more love in her embrace that day than he could ever hope to return. She was the smallest of woman with the strongest arms. She had a hug so strong it could leave him breathless. As a child he felt being in her arms was the safest place in the world. She had raised him alone. His dad was a non-entity. She used to joke that he was an only child and she was an only mom. His mother guided him with a gentle yet firm hand. She supported him every way possible.

Now, for the first time, he was leaving home. He was headed to a college four states and a universe away. On the outside, to anyone that looked at him, he seemed eager to get started. Yet, secretly, deep inside where the boy in him still lived, he was terrified to leave his moms arms.

She had always appeared fearless to him as he was growing up. He got so much of his self-confidence from her unwavering courage. Today, for the first time ever, she looked as afraid as he felt. He was always a little embarrassed at the way he loved and needed his mother. He felt it was time that he started to take care of himself and ease her burden. When he saw the look of confusion and fear in her eyes he finally understood just how much she also needed him.

 The house they had grown up in together was just that… a house. It was them… the two of them… that made the house a home. It became painfully clear, he wasn't just leaving her… he was leaving his home.

When he brought his future wife home from college his mother greeted her with the same brutally loving hug she had always given him. By the time the weekend was over his mother immediately pronounced her “The One!” His mother wooed her more than he did. She proclaimed her the perfect woman for him and the perfect mother for her grandchildren. Together they would be the perfect family his mother had always dreamed of. And that’s pretty much exactly what happened. His wife would declare at family gatherings that she loved his mother more than she did him.

He graduated from college with enough debt to sink a bank. He faced the daunting task of providing a home for his new family. Once again his mother helped him get started. His mother helped financially when he bought his first house. He raised his family there while his mother relished the role of, Nana.

Where most people dreaded living with their In-Laws, he and his wife were different. They pleaded with her to come live with them. His wife's parents had passed away long ago. His wife considered his mother her own. No matter how hard they tried, she resisted every effort they made to get her to move in with them. She stayed in her own home.

Suddenly, his mother started losing little things. She caught a severe cold while she stood waiting outside her door in the rain, waiting for him for an hour after she called and told him she had lost her house keys. He found them in the purse she was clutching. She quickly started to forget where she was frequently. When she started to forget where she lived it became life threatening. Before he ever got the chance to share his home with his mother she required the care of a nursing facility. She would never be coming to live with him.

His mother stared distantly at the wall. The disease had taken her off to someplace where she seemed happy. He took comfort in that. She got excellent care. He came every week… sometimes more and sat with her. Talking, reading… just sitting.

Leaving was the hardest. It was a painful and melancholic stab of pain both experienced and remembered. He felt it every time he kissed his mother gently and said goodbye.

It felt like leaving home… all over again.

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