A Mother's Support
Today is Mother's Day, and it's my first one with no one to write a card to or to call. Shirley Jean Buckingham died on April 27, 2012 in the same town in which she was born 67 years ago.
My mom, like most, was very supportive of her children. When I told her I was dropping out of college two weeks shy of the end of my second year to move to Los Angeles, instead of trying to dissuade me, she just asked that I spend my last day in Tennessee with her (which I did) and that I call her if I ever wanted to come back. I did call her – not to come home, but to stay in touch.
Throughout the next two decades, we saw each other under a dozen times, so our relationship was relegated to phone conversations, at least once weekly with a few exceptions. During one conversation about two years after I left, she could sense I wanted to confide in her something important about me, but I was unable to speak the words, so she spoke them for me and allowed me to just agree at her “good guess.” From then on, I was honest with her about everything. There was nothing I could share with her that would elicit judgment, shame or anger from her, and I shared everything.
Never had I experienced her support more than when I called to tell her, after four-and-a-half years of work, I had finished my first sci-fi novel and given the protagonist (Gregor Buckingham) her maiden name. Before I published it, I printed the document in large type (her preference) and sent it to her, insisting that she give me her honest opinion. Her verdict: she loved it! Of course, I don’t know that she would have told me anything else, but I became convinced of her verdict’s truth when the conversation of every single phone call we had afterwards inevitably turned to the book – How are sales going? Any new reviews? How far have you gotten with the sequel? She would always talk about the characters like they were real people and was anxious to know about any new scenes I had written for them in the sequel.
During our last phone conversation, two days before she died, she told me she had experienced a mild heart attack that past weekend, and although she was okay now, she was going to have tests done at Vanderbilt the following week. She answered some of my frantic questions, but when she tired of them, she brushed aside my concern with assurances that she was going to be fine. Then she started talking about my damn book again. I wish I had booked a flight then instead of two days later.
Quite honestly, I don't remember the last Mother's Day I actually spent with my mom. With 2,00 miles between us, I would send her a card and gift, and we would have a longer-than-usual phone conversation. I can no longer call my mom, but I will still write to her – every time I write a chapter in the continuing story that she loved so much.