My mom has loaded up and is getting into her little white car tomorrow at about 3:00 AM. She’s sold her casita in the hills, and the last few real possessions other than clothes have been gifted, donated, or bartered away. Although she has had to make the difficult decision to leave a dear Tabby with a neighbor, she has Emily, a cat abandoned at birth, and close companion for nearly ten years accompanying her. She also has one of her own three sisters, packed and ready to go along for the ride. The 3,000 mile journey is sure to be Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. And they will take no prisoners.
Tomorrow morning before the crack of dawn with Willie Nelson blasting on her radio, her neighbors will be treated to “On the Road Again” well before they’re ready to rise. They’ll know that “E” is gone. That she’s left town. She’s outta Dodge. And a Hearty High-Ho Silver — Away! Any person unfortunate enough to stumble out of bed to figure out what all the racket is about could be treated to a couple of flying fingers of fate extended from the car windows– one from each side, barely visible, but recognizable through the dust.
She’s off to Virgina to start over again. It’s for the last time, she has said, but I’ll believe that when I see it. No, she’ll not likely be back in Paradise anytime soon, although she’s lived here since 1968. A lifetime of wanderlust has finally taken a gentle hold and nudged her to head somewhere else. Anywhere else but here. The expense and the summertime heat has gotten to her. The dust and the grit of living out in the hills. The unwillingness to tolerate for One. More. Day. the motley assortment of individuals who inhabit the community she has called home for more than six years. My sister moved to Virginia in December and that has been another factor. No, she’ll not be back. I know this. Although she has lived in Arizona, California, Florida, South Carolina, and Spain, the decision to move from one place to the next has never been hers. For the very first time, it is.
She’ll be 70 this December, so those of us stuck in Paradise will head to the Right Coast, gather ourselves into a little bunch, and launch her into her eighth decade on this planet. She’s always been full of piss and vinegar, of fire and brimstone, of little insecurities and quiet regret, but she’s healthy as a horse.
For a while, I wasn’t sure she’d go. First she was, and then she wasn’t. Elation, then dejection. Emails flying furiously across the miles, and phone calls that should have been on conference call with everyone involved throwing in their two cents. Angry words, less than pleasant thoughts, and depressing Google searches for “senior services” or “jobs for senior citizens” and “cheap rentals” filled our time.
Her desire to move to a place away from here and into a small home next to a big tree waned. It all became too large for her. She exhausted herself and us with it all. We ran out of ideas. Out of suggestions. Had no patience left for any of it.
Time came to the rescue like it always does. It passes more slowly than desired, forcing hard thought about choices. The act of planning is constructive, but at the same time a struggle with emotion always accompanies any decision made. Is this the right thing to do? Will I be okay? Who am I leaving behind? Will I regret this decision, or will it be the best I’ve ever made? I’ve always said I’ve wanted to go and never have. This is my chance…
I wish I could afford space on a billboard somewhere along a winding road that she might see which says, “Bon Voyage.” Or purchase a message to display across the silver surface of the Goodyear blimp, looming slowly over the horizon one day to encourage her along. Perhaps a plane to script a message in the sky to send love. But I can’t.
And I don’t quite know how to tell her how proud I am of her and her decision. That I wish the best for her and know that this is the very best thing for herself she has ever done. Ever.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
It has guided me for so many, many years and I wish it to carry you along as well.
You go, Mom! Kick butt and take names the entire freaking way. Find a hundred great places to write, “E Was Here.” Make your mark. Beep and wave at people you don’t know, just because you can. And absolutely make sure that you slam the door as hard as you possibly can on the way out.
No mooning, though. Kay?