I'm back from my big trip to California and as it is in all adventures, and believe me when I tell you it was an adventure, it sure is good to be home. I mentioned that I have been in greater contact with my mom since the holidays and she mentioned two things that really motivated me to go out and see her - she is having health problems, and she is in the midst of a bit of a falling out with my brother, TL. TL lives in California and though he's far away, at least he's in the same state. This makes it easier for him to visit my mom, though I can attest to the fact that this is not as easy as it sounds. Spending time with mom can be like visiting the gulag, she can be relentless in her scorn and saltiness, and my brother happens to be the perfect target for numerous reasons that I won't get into... as much as I'd like to.
Due to the fact that I can never get a straight story from either one of them and never know who to believe, I don't really know happened between them. Like they say, there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth. Regardless of what transpired, big brother is in the doghouse, so enter youngest son. There is an incredible amount of backstory to this that I won't bore you with but suffice it to say that my mom is getting up there in the years and needs some help now and then. She has a house that's way too big for her but she loves, and she lives in a city that is not always user friendly. In her ideal world both of her sons would live next door to her, but what kind of life would that be for both parties? Sometimes a little distance is the best thing a family can do for itself.
Either way, she has been wanting for me to come and visit for awhile, and I admit that I've dropped the ball on this one because I'm such a bad son. In my defense, it's not easy to pick up and leave my family behind being a SAHD and all. Mom can hold down the fort and then some because she's mega-capable, but I just feel that the place I belong is here with my wife and kids. It's not easy taking off and leaving all the daily stuff to them. And there is plenty of daily stuff. This week in particular was especially busy, with the kids having school, skiing, hockey, get togethers, and then more hockey. Mom was literally running around like crazy. Oh, and did I mention she has her job to go to?
The situation was compounded by the fact that I knew what I was in store for when I went back home. I know this because I've endured a lifetime of it, and while my mom has mellowed out a bit with age, she's still pretty aggressive when it comes to pointing our my shortcomings and faults, or rather my perceived shortcomings and faults (same thing). At some point in a person's life one has to ask oneself if it's really worth putting up with it, especially when there is so much malice behind it. However, my mom is getting up there in the years, and I've experienced a similar life trajectory with my dad, where I swallowed my pride, which was not easy, but am happy I did because I was able to bridge some huge chasms and achieve reconciliation. This is in marked contrast with my brother, who refused to make the effort and missed out when my dad passed away. That, as the saying goes, is a story for another time.
In the end, my mom asked me to make a trip out there, and I just did it. My wife and kids gave me a big nudge and I just jumped in a did it. In the past I didn't make the trip because there was never a perfect time. This was not the perfect time (not even close), but at some point you just have to do it.
On a bright note, I managed to find a good price on a ticket around a reasonable time of the year, mainly because A was in the midst of exams and didn't have to go to school every day. This meant mom (not "my mom") had to take her to the exam early one day, which is usually my job since I'm the morning person, but otherwise nobody had early morning classes. The flight was non-stop from Boston to LA, and on a good airline, JetBlue, which for the record is one of my favorites. I traveled alone so the process was somewhat streamlined, and I went to help my mom but figured since I was there I might as well pick up my surfboard, as well. I don't think I would have attempted this with my wife and kids in tow.
All in all the trip wasn't too bad. It was a little depressing being back in LA, which I have no love for, and it rained the entire time I was there, which is unusual but badly needed in that part of the country. I got to see some friends, eat In and Out Burger, and of course, I managed to get my surfboard home. This warrants more details but for now suffice it to say that all is well and it was a good trip in terms of seeing my mom and getting a sense of what she needs. In this regard, this story is just beginning. Stay tuned for more.
Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to borenan for the pic.