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|Going Home Again - Page 4|
The next day, she opts for Knott's Berry Farm. Following an early dinner, we walk around looking at shops and trinkets--tiny treasures to delight a child. She seems to move slowly, and when I suggest leaving, she makes no argument.
That night, when I squeeze into her bedroom to watch TV with her, I see that her foot is twice its normal size, with several enormous blood blisters on the big toe. "What's this?!" I cry.
My mother responds, "Oh, it's nothing. I just tripped a little last night and banged up my toe."
"And you walked around Knott's Berry Farm like that without telling me?!" I ask feeling alarmed and internally apoplectic.
"Well, Honey, I wanted you to have a nice day. It's your vacation."
A significant part of the last night of my visit involves a series of suggestions and refusals of care, ending with her acceptance of a dilapidated bag of frozen corn to ice her foot.
As we eat a small breakfast the next morning, my mother bites her lip and says to me, "I guess I have to turn you loose." I can't help but think about her choice of words. When I hug her good-bye, I hear myself say, "I love you" and realize, in that moment, I mean it. I know, too, that her love for me is as real as she knows how to give it.
I drive to the airport, return the rental car, find my gate, and marvel at how grown up I feel. I then feel a stab of pain for a mother who can't comprehend what an achievement it is that I can function out in a world I find both beautiful and complex. If she could understand, I like to think she'd be proud.
Jeanne Folks, D.Min., L.P.C., has been a psychotherapist, professional counselor, and adjunct professor of psychology, clinical medicine, and complimentary and alternative medicine for more than 25 years. She lives in Avon, Connecticut. Contact: email@example.com.
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