[If you are new here, I normally post about raising my 4.5 year old son who was diagnosed with autism last April. On Friday, however, my mom was rushed to the emergency room. Since that time, my focus has temporarily shifted while I make it through this difficult time. ]
It was a beautiful, winter morning. Strange, even for Northern California, that we would be expecting a high near 60 degrees. My dad and I got out of the car. Mom waited in the car for a few minutes while I dropped off my dad.
He was undergoing a routine test. It was the kind of test that requires someone to drop off and pick up. I rearranged my schedule so I could leave my son with support (My husband, Jessica, and his therapists) and I tended to my parents. My dad safely tucked into the doctor’s office, I walked downstairs and got in the car to take care of my mom until he was released a few hours later.
My mom and dad moved from over the mountains to be close to me last July. After spending about six weeks unpacking and organizing their things, cooking meals, and assuring they were comfortable in their new surroundings, I backed off. I began to focus on my son, his therapy and treatment and my work and my life.
In the last couple of months, I had seen my parents for the holidays, but they had been living fairly independently. They had established a new routine and followed it. They were comfortable.
As I drove my parents’ car that January morning, the day was bright. My mom and I had only about an hour and a half until we would return to pick up my dad. I asked my mom if she wanted to go to the mall and sit for tea or go home. She opted for the tea and mall.
Now, here is the story. If you’ve met me here before, you’ve heard me speak of the “tea.” This is not a low-cal, all health kind of tea. No, no, that’s not for me! I’m not sitting at a tea party pouring from a beautiful set like a good little Asian girl. I am talking about a full of sugar, powdery goodness mixed with milk and foam. A vanilla chai tea latte made with honey, vanilla, black tea and secret ingredients. Only one brand and one flavor of goodness will do. There are no substitutes.
In the 11 years I have drunk this tea, no one has ever wanted to join me for more than the first sip. All my critics hate this tea. They say it is too sweet. There must be others like me out there, or perhaps the Chai tea people are solely depending upon me for their livelihood. Either way, fine. More for me!
Mom asked me to get her a simple cup of regular tea. I did. You know, with a little tea bag and hot water, little packets of sweetner (yuck). We got a bagel to share and sat at a table.
This little tête à tête was weird. My mom and I had not done anything alone together in years. Really. Because my dad was always with us. So this was a special morning. I got to sit down at a quiet table, just me and my mom.
The mall was not yet open. My son was with the therapists and I wasn’t chasing him down or watching for a meltdown. It was just me and my mom. We looked at pictures of my son. We watched people walk by and the employees open up the shops. We talked about some of my cases.
She barely touched her own tea. I asked and she said she did not like her tea. I asked her if she wanted to try mine. She did. I gave it to her.
Well, guess what? She loved it! Yes! After 11 years of trying to bond with someone over the tea, I discovered that morning that I only had to turn to my mom. Genetically, I guess we were made of the same tea-loving genes. I went back to the coffee shop and bought her the same tea.
She sipped it quickly. I laughed and smiled. She smiled and laughed. I was happy. Not only had I found someone who shared my love for this beverage, but the person who loved it was my mama! If I’d only thought about it, who was most likely to love it but her?
Why had we not sat down for tea before? Who knows. But we had this moment and it was special.
As I wheeled her through the mall in her wheelchair, she continued to sip her tea. We shopped. I bought her some things. She enjoyed our time together and so did I. She kept asking me to make sure my dad knew how to get her the tea. She really liked it.
Pretty soon, it was time to go. I put her back in the car and strapped in her seatbelt. I went to pick up my dad. We returned to their home. I got them settled down, and I returned to work and my son.
It was our first and only trip in many years to the mall together, just us girls. But it is a memory that I will keep forever. Me, my mom and our vanilla chai tea.
[For those of you who have expressed your prayers, your love, hope and comfort to me this week, again, I thank you. You have no idea how much your words have kept me strong in this very scary time. My mom was moved from her room to a cardiac monitoring unit at the hospital due to some arrhythmia as her temperature fluctuates to fever and then below normal and back again to fever. She is still listless but when spoken to she is minimally responsive. My dad remains stalwart by her side.]