It was June 2010.
After spending the entire afternoon and evening at the hospital, I was exhausted. What was supposed to be a simple surgery had taken seven hours. Mom was okay. But she going to be in the hospital for several days, rather than just overnight. Late that night, she called me from her hospital room.
“Can you bring me some nightgowns to wear?” she asked.
“Of course. Do you need anything else?”
“Just some underwear and something to go home in. And my gowns are in the large dresser, in the middle drawer to the right. My favorite gowns are on top.”
Mom has kept her gowns in the same place, for as long as I can remember. She is a creature of habit. I opened the drawer and in there, just as she described were her gowns. I picked up the two closest to the top, when something caught my eye.
It looked to be note. Folded. Tucked beneath her stack of gowns. I initially dismissed it and went on about my task of packing. But the note summoned me.
Let’s face it. Regardless if we are 13 years old or 60 years old, it’s hard to resist reading something that appears to be hidden away, but happens to be in our plain sight.
I picked up the paper. It was folded into a neat square. It was a bit yellowed and worn. It looked old.
I thought, this is going to be good…probably a love note from an old flame.
As I carefully opened the paper I recognized the handwriting.
It was my own.
I looked further to discover that this note was a letter I penned to my mother almost 20 years earlier. She had held on to it for all this time.
I sat on the edge of her bed and began reading…
July 21, 1991
It’s really late but I have to write you this before i go to sleep. I want you to know how much I appreciate you for teaching me how to be independent. Today was a tough day. I had 2 exams. I crammed for them and I think I did well. But while I was taking the second test, I realized how much I learn from books and how much I have learned from you, as my mom.
I want to thank you for teaching me how to do laundry. How to cook. How to set a table. How to shop. How to balance a checkbook. How to manage my money (and I am still working on that one). Most of all you taught me how to be an independent woman. Its worth more than any education I am getting here. I know I gave you a hard time growing up, but i am grateful that you always had faith in me.
i just wanted you to know. i love you, Mom.
She had read this so many times, that the creases in the pages were beginning to tear through. I never knew it meant so much to her that I had taken the time to thank her. Being the stoic person she is, she would have never shared that with me. And now sitting on the edge of her bed, nightgowns in hand, I feel closer to my mother than I did yesterday.
Today, I know her heart.
I managed to get back on task and delivered the gowns to her at the hospital. I walked in put the suitcase down and then I hugged her. It was a long hug. Longer than normal.
“What’s wrong, honey?” she asked.
“Nothing, Mom. i just love you.” I said.
“I love you too” she quipped “now hand me a gown.”
Back in her shell. Where she is comfortable.
It’s okay. i know about the note. And that’s good enough for me.