It's been a challenge to park (and work) in downtown Minneapolis. I can park across Washington Avenue for $4 a day and walk a mile to work or I can park at the Armory for $7 and walk a couple of blocks. As much as I love a good walk or two I must admit that commerce has won out over the merits of good exercise more than I'd allow in most other areas of my so called life.
The other day I was walking past where they are sandblasting something in connection with the Hiawatha Light Rail project and a random, unexpected thought popped into my tired wee little brain: My Mom worked hard her entire life. She had jobs I'm sure didn't always meet her expectations but she seldom complained. She probably could have done more professionally but she sacrificed that to raise her family. No doubt it was a valid choice (one I'm personally thankful for) but it makes it seem even more cruel that just as she was getting into her retirement: planning some travel out east, learning how to use a computer and the Internet, was just when she got sick and in a way didn't get to enjoy the fruits of her labor that she worked so hard for all those years.
So as I was walking to another day of just another day at work it struck me how much, how terribly much I wish Mom were still alive. And it's a feeling I'm not terribly sure will ever completely go away (nor should it). Whether or not that is a healthy thing I'll leave up to the medical experts and theologians to decide.
The world has changed a lot in the past four years. Some might argue for Americans it has changed more in the past four years than any other time. Maybe we were taking our country, our freedom and all else that is supposed to be what we all are supposed to stand united for, for granted, but since that awful night when Mom breathed her final breath we've seen a President essentially appointed by the Supreme Court usurping the way we usually elect the most powerful Man on Earth; we've seen a horrible attack that killed too many; we've seen another great LP by Bob Dylan and the end of the most significant TV series ever, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the Maeda family alone we've seen the addition of three cuter than cute kids (two of them twins!). We've also seen a few graduations and the deaths of three beloved pets, Ralph, Abaca, and Max (and the corresponding replacements of sorts, Sylvia, Diego, and Thompson). Perspective is as perspective allows.
And I never stop to wonder what Mom would have thought about any of this. Certainly none of it would have changed but somehow all of it would have been different.
Four years ago Mom died as I held her hand pretending if I held tightly enough she somehow couldn't die. In the room were my Dad, my sister Donna, my brother Bruce, and the only bad hospice nurse that helped take care of Mom. As Mom let out her last gasp of breath a moment of silence passed and Dad finally asked if that was indeed it. The chubby nurse nodded and surprise to me (and I'm sure all in the room) I started sobbing. I prepared myself the best I could but somehow the best I could wasn't good enough. Dad came over and told me that we would get through this somehow. And we have. And I knew we would. I knew there was little choice.
Four years later as the Minnesota Twins rose from the ashes of massive local indifference and fielded a terrific team for the past few years I can't help but wonder how much Mom would have enjoyed this team that plays the game the way it is meant to be played. I can't help but wonder how happy Mom would be that Dad continues to come out and watch my softball games. I can't help but wonder how Mom would have cared that I happened to reconnect with my soulmate days after September 11 if only for a moment. I wonder what Mom would have said as I left my ideal job for a secure one (of sorts). I can't help but wonder how proud Mom would be of the irresistible twins born to my Brother and his Wife. I can't help but wonder how Mom could have comforted me when I had to take Mr. Max into the vet for the final time because he was in distress and couldn't breathe and my friend Amy came along and hugged me as the life left Max's body and how though it was small comfort it was so comforting to have a friend who wanted to be there with me. I wonder what Mom would have said to let me know how it was the right thing to do to let two others into my heart despite the heartache- especially since one is so lucky to still be here (and we all should take that to note and never forget it).
The steps of a wannabe walker have slowed down a bit the past four years (1,200+ days). I've switched jobs a couple of times. I haven't been the best family member I can be. I haven't written anything of significance, or anything I'm proud to have written in a long long while. Sometimes I still know I'm not where I want to be or where I should be. And above it all, I haven't visited the place where Mom's ashes rest as often as I should especially since it is so close to the place I now call home. I wonder what Mom would make of all this when I slowly take another step forward.