コーヒーを飲んだり、携帯電話で写真を撮ったりして、たわいのない時間を楽しんだ娘と母 JACKIE HOFFART PHOTO
A couple of weeks ago my mother came to Vancouver for a visit. She lives in Calgary, which is about 700 km away from here, or about an hour's flight. It's been a long time since I had some one-on-one time with my mom.
In 2007, she came to stay with me in Onomichi for four weeks. I was an ALT there, so we scheduled her visit during my holiday, between the end of the school year and the beginning of the new one.
That visit was a really special time for us. We visited Kobe and Kyoto, we made a long trip around Shikoku, and we hung out in and around my beloved Hiroshima Prefecture. I was 26 at the time, and it was the first time my mother and I really got to know each other as adults.
Since I've been back in Canada, I've been craving another visit with her. So I insisted that she come and visit me during the break between my winter and summer semesters. But I made her promise she would come by herself.
I didn't mean to be rude to my father or sister, but mom is different when she's by herself. She's more relaxed. When she's around my dad and sister, I feel like she always puts herself last. She seems to dote on them, or allow herself to be subject to whatever demands they place on her, and as a result, she seems more stressed.
But when she's on her own, mom is just mom. I suppose you could say she's doting on me and allowing herself to be subject to my demands, but I'm not very demanding. (Or at least, I don't think I am. . .)
Her recent visit was so much fun. My mom is into technology and we both love coffee, so we went for coffee a lot and took a lot of pictures with our phones. We did a little shopping, went out for brunch almost every day, saw a movie and just hung out and read a lot. It was perfect.
As I move into my 30s, and my mother approaches 60, I am increasingly aware of how precious life is. Some of my friends' parents have passed away early and it scares me. I am so grateful for my mother's "genki-ness" and ability to travel easily. Sixty may not be that old, but I think my mother is about the age her mother was when she died.
I have a lot of fear about the possibility of a world — one day, way, way in the future — that doesn't include my mother. The thought alone makes me cry.
Who am I without my mother? Growing up, my parents both loved my sister and me very much, but mom was the more tender of the two. They both worked very hard in different ways to raise us, but I'm not sure my mom really knows how much her sacrifice has meant to me. She put her professional life and personal development on hold to raise us, and often made sacrifices in favor of dad's career too.
When she saw firsthand during this visit just how excited I am by the path I am on now with filmmaking, she said that she's not sure she ever really had a career she loved like that. My mom was a nurse, but she said she never felt much passion for it. I think she was a natural at it — she's very nurturing but also very technically proficient and studious. But I think her life didn't really allow her the kind of extended adolescence that I've had, during which I've really taken the time to find out what inspires me.
But my mom has found some things she really loves in her middle age. She loves traveling, and in her words, she now "just works to travel." (She has quit nursing in favor of health care administration work, which gives her more free time.)
She also likes studying our family history — she's into genealogy, which I also find fascinating and love learning about through her. Our family seems to have unusual characters from all over North America and Europe, who have overcome great odds, crossing oceans and continents, and provided for their families, all the while passing on old traditions and building new ones.
I'm comforted to think that my mother and I fit into this story too. Across continents and oceans, she has provided for me in so many ways. And together we carry on old traditions and forge new ones.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
Next time: My topic is ... weddings