Monday, December 19, 2011

never a dull moment

I used to say in amazement, every time I visited my mother, up until and including the very end, that there was never a dull moment while visiting her. In her later years, I would expect that there would be nothing to do, visiting someone who could barely walk, barely hear and drift in and out of conversations. But, no - it was either the unusual people that happened by, or the fun conversations with her caretakers, or ... her. From early childhood, when the stories she chose to read us at dinner were based on maximum excitement, or the ski trips that she lugged all six of us along and then took herself down the black diamond trails... over and over her love of adventure led was the driving force. In fact, over time, the one word that was most condemning was for her to describe someone as "dull". You can hear the dread in her voice as she would say the word. Someone could be crazy or weird or even criminal (remember the escapee she took riding at Taunton? The glint in her eye whenever she told the story?), but dull was the worst.
Instead, my mother attracted fun people. And sought adventure. Only a year ago, I was visiting her with Daniel and she suggested we head out on a drive. Because her years of exploring the mountains around her had resulted in friendships with many landowners, we never questioned her direction, as we would now drive freely onto people's private property. This time we were driving through the "locked" gate onto Dave Matthew's land (she was good friends with his mother, "Val"). The road started out paved. It wound past open meadows and an old barn. After the barn, the road headed steeply downhill across a meadow - it was now dirt and much less travelled. "Keep going!" my mother insisted. At the bottom of the hill, the "road" took a sharp left and you could see a creek running alongside. The road deteriorated as we progressed and my mother became more impatient and determined "Go! just keep going!" It became much higher on one side than the other, and the trees, roots and rocks closed in on either side and from below. Finally after climbing a little rise of muddy red soil, it dropped below us: you could see ahead a bridge over the deep stream: wide enough for maybe 1/2 a car... and then nothing... a tangle of branches. I realized at that point - yikes! We have my mother unable to walk in a car in a place completely incapable of describing to anyone, should we be stuck here! (that's assuming a cell phone would have worked in that jungle). I got out of the car and directed Daniel as he carefully backed up the steep slope - it would have been impossible to do it without 2 people - one to direct and one to drive. The mud, the narrow angled road, it was tricky. My heart was really pumping. After it was over, after we were able to finally turn around and get out of there, Mom looked so pleased with herself. She had had an adventure! Later, she said to me, "Boo tells me that road really doesn't go through." As if she needed Boo to tell her...

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