Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

Pre-Mother’s Day surprise

He quietly stepped into the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York‘s hall where the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, his mother’s employer, held their final Regional Conference today.

photo (16)On this day before Mother’s Day, our older son Sean, who lives in New York, decided to surprise his mother. He made plans to attend the conference and told his mother. What he did not tell her, and he did not tell me until just a couple of weeks ago, he also arranged for his brother, Eric, to come from Texas to New York for the weekend. Eric also registered for the conference.

Tricia arrived on Thursday. Yesterday she worked with her colleagues finalizing the plans for today’s event. Brian and Kellie made a hasty adjustment so that Eric’s name did not appear in the list of participants, replacing it with mine.

When Tricia saw the list, a flurry of texts flew among Brian, Sean, Kellie, and me. We made up a story to tell Tricia. A thin story, but the best we could do quickly.

At dinner, Tricia said, “Apparently Sean registered you for the conference.”

“What?” said I. She repeated her words.

“I did talk to him at one point about maybe attending,” I said. “Then I checked and decided that because the theme is about changing church policy, I probably should not go. I guess he went ahead and registered me any how.”

Brian, Pam, and Jon, our dinner companions, backed my play. Brian said, “I will tell Sean that the Covenant Network will refund his money.”

“No worries,” I replied. “He makes enough. Call it a contribution.” Everyone laughed and the moment passed.

When Tricia and I returned to the Shire near the Hudson from seeing Kinky Boots, we talked about today’s schedule. I made up a story about having an early meeting with someone this morning near Columbus Circle for breakfast. Location and purpose of the morning were true. The other person not so much.

Tricia and I boarded the subway together this morning. I got off at Columbus Circle and met Sean and Eric for a bagel. Then we headed to the church.

Eric and Sean got their name tags. I explained the situation. And we moved to the room where participants could find coffee.

Tricia stood, her back to the door, talking to our friend Susan. Sean pushed Eric forward. He stepped to his mother and tapped her shoulder. She knows almost all the conference participants . When she turned, she expected to see one of her colleagues; she saw her son.

Smiles and laughter followed. Susan took some photos. We made some introductions to friends who marveled to see us in one place. I bid farewell and trust they are enjoying the conference. I will rejoin them when it ends and we will do something this evening. Brunch and a show tomorrow. A good weekend.

Happy Mother’s Day!

See you along the Trail.


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That one tear

“They are for my wife.”

My lack of languages other haunts me when I travel. Other people know multiple languages. I carry only English – and that not well – plus some Sesame Street Spanish. A smattering of high school French,  limited in vocabulary, atrocious in pronunciation, travels with me.

“They are for my wife.”

Despite my language limits I do remember enough French to know that is what he said.

We were on the number 5 bus headed from Grand-Sacconex to the Church of Scotland in Geneva.

He, well he must have been going to see his wife.

Tufts of white-gray hair poked out from beneath his gray hat. He wore a gray-checked suit. The bright flowers wrapped in tissue and cellophane and clutched tightly in his age-spotted left hand offered a striking contrast to the pervasive grayness.

He slid across the bench to sit by the window and with a gesture of his free hand offered the vacated seat beside him. “Merci,” I said as I declined. He shrugged and turned to look out the window, lost in thought.

A woman entered at the next stop and took the seat. She spoke, complimenting the beauty of the flowers, or so I presume because of his answer.

He did not make eye contact as he responded with a simple phrase that I could understand. “They are for my wife.”

His seat-mate tried to make conversation with him. He replied in monosyllables, his gaze remained fixed outside the bus although it was clear he looked not to see but to retreat, remember, reflect.

At one point she asked me a question. Having no idea what she had asked, I turned to those dim recesses where reside what remains of four years of French reside to find the appropriate response. “Je ne sais pas.” Feelings of incompetence and arrogance washing over me, I looked away.

When she left the bus, a couple stops later, he did not repeat his offer of the seat, but continued to stare out the window.

Then I saw it. In the corner of his right eye. A tear. One solitary tear. 

At that moment, the bus pulled to a stop across from a medical facility and he began to move, struggling to cross the bench and keep his grip on the flowers. I moved to offer to hold them, but saw the tear again and thought better. I took his elbow.

He stood up, straightened his shoulders, and exited the bus.

And I was left to wonder about the memories, the pain, the grief, the love contained in that one tear.

See you along the Trail.

Bus 5
8 May 2011
Mother’s Day

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