Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Conversation with My Mother

I'm 30 years old, and single, right? Right. Congratulations, here's an award. But remember, Cheastypants, with great power comes great responsibility. So along with the great powers of absolute flexibility and control over my life come a series of responsibilities, most of them to my mother. Like, for example, the increasingly awkward conversation we have every year around the Christmas holidays. I hate it, but it's something I must do, just to make her feel better.

It started when I was about 23 and hadn't had a serious boyfriend in years. It was college, dude! I was having too much fun. But slowly my mother started introducing words like "commitment" and "phobia" into our conversations about men, relationships, and my future. I protested in vain. More about my early dating habits later, but for now, I'd like to tell you about one of the most painfully sweet things my mother has ever said to me. This was the day that I realized, after years of encouragement and hopeful optimism, that my mother had given up on me. Not entirely, I'm sure. She is, after all, a preacher, and therefore a believer in miracles, but nonetheless. I was officially in the realm of miracles, and therefore not in a good place, regarding men, relationships, and my future. And my mom wanted me to know that that was okay.

A couple of years ago, Mom and Dad were re-doing their will, having added children, property, and mountains of diamond-studded gold bricks (kidding) to their collective assets since the previous writing. Mom found me in the living room one afternoon and asked me what I wanted to receive in their will. Ugh, I said. I want not to be having this conversation. You will never die, I forbid it. Regardless, Mom insisted, asking and prompting me, until finally I said that I'd be happy if I could have her scarab bracelet. I don't even know if I'm spelling that right, or what exactly a scarab is. All I know is that this bracelet is beautiful -- many different colored stones set in a gold setting, and linked together. More importantly, it is something of a family heirloom, having been her mother's before it was Mom's. So I love it. I love the way the stones catch the light, becoming almost opaque, and I love the way all the different colors mean I never have to wonder if it matches what I'm wearing (not a forté of mine). Best of all, I'd be carrying something with me that she loved as much as I do. I really love that bracelet. Mom was touched. She may or may not have welled up with tears at my uncommon sensitivity. She sniffled, she kissed me, and she let the conversation go without further questions about rugs, paintings, furniture, and the like.

Then, a few days later, she found me in the living room again, and gave me a small jeweler's box. "What's this?" I asked. "Oh, nothing," she replied, looking nonchalant. "Just something I found while I was shopping today. Open it." I opened it, and inside was a beautiful small scarab bracelet set in silver. I looked up at her, surprised. "What on earth is this for?"

"Oh, nothing much," she said. "I saw this and thought about you and what you said the other day, and I thought this could be like a promise bracelet, you know? You wear this one until I pass away, and then when you start wearing mine, you can give this small one to your... (awkward pause, as she cast about for the right words)... you know, niece, or some other girl in the family you're especially fond of."

Crickets, crickets.

(Thanks, Mom. I love you, and I promise I'm trying super hard not to let you down. Don't give up on me yet -- I have a date tomorrow night!)

6 comments:

Erin said...

you have a date?!? do tell...don't do anything i wouldn't do! xoxo, e

Alison said...

Awww so heartfelt and making my eyes well up, totally setting me up for your mother's beautiful punch line.

Cheasty said...

yup, a date, erin. details offline!

and thanks, alison... what a nice comment!

H-SPO said...

crickets...crickets.

i laughed out loud. A LOT.

don't worry. we are all gonna adopt babies. that's what i'm gonna do.

carymc said...

Good lord, you're only 30! Women are having babies in their 40s now, right? I can't believe Mom has given up on you. Maybe she said niece or friend because she thought mentioning a child you don't have yet would upset you (?).

Cheasty said...

Oh, that's sweet, Cary. But I don't have a neice, either!