Finding Life (in obvious places): A Call to Mom

I knew the bank would laugh at me trying to get a loan, so I called my mother.

“Hello?” She exhaled, then took a deep puff on her cigarette.

“Hi Mom.”

“Is this my son.”

“Of course it’s your son, Mom.”

“Oh, okay. It’s just been so long since you called. I usually call you. So, how have you been?”

“Fine, mom.”

“And Julie?”

“She’s okay, too. I guess.”

“What do you mean you guess? You are still seeing Julie, aren’t you?”

“Yes, mom.  Mom, listen. I have a favor to ask.”

“So that’s why you called. Well it’s good to know I can still do something for you. What is it?”

“Don’t be so bitter.”

“Who’s being bitter? Tell me the favor.” Exhale. Deep puff.

“I want to buy a house.”

“A house?”

“Let me finish. Yes, a house. And I’ll need to take out a loan.”

“A house? Why a house? What’s wrong with your apartment?”

“Nothing’s wrong, I just want my own place, that’s all.”

“My son, the spot welder, wants his own place. Why not build a new house? Hire a gardener and a maid…”

“Stop it, Mom.  Listen, just forget it. I only wanted… just forget it.”

“Now, now. I’m only teasing. Don’t be so sensitive. How can I help?”

“I only wanted to ask you to co-sign.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you. Who else would I ask?”

“Well, why not Julie’s father? I assume this means you two…”

“Stop assuming things. We aren’t getting married. I want the house for myself. That’s it. Okay?”

“You’re so much like your father. Always thinking of yourself.”

“Okay, forget it. Forget I asked.”

“Now, now. I’ll co-sign already.”

“You will?”

“Sure. What have I got to lose?

“You don’t mind then?”

“No I don’t mind. Of course, you could save your money and come back home. You know that.”

“Yes, Mom. I know that. We’ve been through this.”

“Alright, already. I’ll co-sign. Is that all you wanted?

There was a long pause. I tried to clear my throat, but nothing came out. I was sorry I’d called her. Sorry I’d had to call her. Sorry I hadn’t called her more often.

“Can I take you out to dinner sometime?” I asked.

“You don’t have to.”

“No. I want to. How’s tomorrow?”

“Church.”

“After church.”

“Fine.  Or, you could join me for church?

“No. I mean. I don’t…. I’ll pick you up afterwards. Okay?”

“Fine.”

Well, it’s something. I’ve got mom to co-sign on the loan. I’m taking her out to dinner. It’s something.

I look at her photo on my dresser. Taken for her high school yearbook. She was going to become a nurse and travel overseas as a missionary. That was before dad came along. His motorcycle promised a more accessible journey to exotic places than she thought she’d ever go. Then I was conceived and her dreams of going to distant lands were replaced by days and nights of dirty diapers, incessant cries, and constant worries about bills and a husband always off even when he was around.

I look in the mirror and her voice comes back to me. “You’re just like your father.”

The Mirror of Parenting--great post about what to do when we see our own ugliness reflected in our kids

{This post is part of an extended work Finding Life (in obvious places) written in 1985 and currently being revised. To find the other posts in the series, click on the title in the tags below.}

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