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Sunday, November 01, 2015

On Visits, Memories, and Farewells

Jean Sexton muses:

I like visits. For the most part my apartment is tidy enough that I won't be embarrassed were someone to come over. The biggest "mess" is toys on the floor. Wolf simply hasn't learned to put them away yet. However, when someone is coming over, such as my mother, then "for the most part" simply won't cut it. She's allergic to dogs, so the daybed has to be stripped to the frame and thoroughly cleaned above and below. The whole "public" part of the apartment was cleaned thoroughly. The car got washed inside and out. Even Wolf got washed!

It paid off! With a little help from an allergy medicine, Mom was able to pat the dog without being uncomfortable. It's a good thing since Wolf loved her. I didn't have to wonder where he was; he was curled up beside her with her fingers ruffling his fur. He quickly learned "no bite" and didn't nibble on her fingers in play. He learned "off" meant no bouncing her legs as she walked.

The only problem we had is Wolf wanted my mother to be part of the "pack" and sleep in my bedroom. By the end of the visit he had accepted that he slept in his crate, I slept in my bed, and Mom slept on the daybed in the living room.

One of the things I like about visits is they create memories. Mom and I explored Amarillo as I showed her my everyday life -- going to work, the grocery store, some of my favorite restaurants, and the "look" of Amarillo. She was surprised to see so many trees, each one carefully tended. That has been the biggest change for me as well. In North Carolina, many times one must carve out a lawn from the trees. Here it looked like the lawn had been there and the trees placed artistically in the yard.

We also visited places she had read about, the "must sees" in Amarillo. The Big Texan (represented by the limo in the cartoon Cars), Cadillac Ranch (the Cadillac Range in the same movie), the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame and Museum, and Route 66 are on the list of places people remember about Amarillo. She saw playa lakes for the first time. We created many new memories.

In the evenings and on the drives we relived so many memories of the past. "Do you remember," shared stories, and family jokes took us back in time. In some ways those are the touchstones that define a family. While those can be shared on the phone, seeing the smile form and the eyes crinkle or catching the fleeting glimpse of shared loss makes a difference.

Still a "visit" has a start and an ending. Parting is hard. You make promises to see each other again, knowing there is the implied "if possible." Even then, there are memories made. I won't forget Wolf checking the bathroom, daybed, dining room, and kitchen to see if Mom had come home. Finally in desperation he checked under the daybed to see if she'd somehow hidden under there. He then accepted she had left and curled up as close to her pillow as he could.

Still "farewell" is softer than "goodbye." "Goodbye" has such a finality to it. "Farewell" carries the feeling or a wish that you fare well until we meet again. I know there will come a day when my brother will call and tell me there is such a deal on airplane tickets and wouldn't I like to contribute to let Mom fly out again. I'll agree and start planning for a new visit and new memories to be made.

In the meantime I will treasure my new memories.