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Judie Finds Her Mom
As I watched my Mom prepare dinner in our small, neat and modestly fitted kitchen, I thought that these three words best characterized her: tall, elegant, beautiful. Even in her simple track suit she looked stylish and out-of-place in our near austere apartment house. The kitchen had a slightly cracked cup hanging from a peg because it was Dad’s favorite mug.
“Mom, don’t forget the PTA meeting tomorrow at four.”
She was opening a second can of tomato and onion mix. She paused and looked at me apologetically. “Sorry love, I can’t leave office till six.”
I should have seen that coming but I was too much of an optimist.
“Not again!” I screamed.
By this time she had stopped opening the can altogether. “You know I’d have liked to be there, honey.”
I couldn’t bring myself to look at her. “Just forget it, Mom.” I said dejectedly and walked out of the kitchen.
“Judie, come back,” my Mom called out but I ignored her. I was tired of hearing the same excuses.
In my room, I lay on my bed cradling my warm Canadian teddy bear, Pinkie.
“May I come in, Judie?” my Mom asked softly from outside my bedroom door.
When I didn’t respond, she opened the door and entered. I turned my back facing the wall. I felt her slight weight depress the bed as she sat. “I wish I didn’t have to work so hard but this job pays our bills,” she said. My Mom was a paralegal in a leading New York law firm, Neumann and Neumann. She paused as if waiting for me to say something; then continued, “Before your Dad died we spent lots of time together but things are different now.” There was a long silence. “I know that I’m not the best Mom but I love you and I’m doing the best that I can.” Her voiced trailed off.
I didn’t have anything to say to her. I was thirteen but I knew that my life was not how I wanted it to be. When I remained in the same position, my Mom gently rubbed my shoulder and left the room, shutting the door quietly. I turned, lying on my back, staring at nothing.
The following evening, I was playing my Xbox when my Mom got back from work.
“Hi baby, losing to the computer again?” she asked but I refused to be humored. Dropping my gamepad, I went to my room. Lying down, I cuddled my faithful companion Pinkie. Why was I always one of the few students whose family didn’t show up on parents’ evenings and PTA meetings? Not even an aunt, uncle or granny. As my eyes brimmed with tears, my frustration and anger increased.
The door bell rang but I didn’t care who it was. However, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take a peek into the living room. From my bedroom door I could hear my Mom’s friend, Portia.
“How’re you girl?” Portia’s loud voice reverberated around the house.
They sat on the couch. “Have been better,” my Mom replied blandly.
“I told you that office is no place for you, Clara.” Portia was also a paralegal. She worked with Parker and Associates, a law office owned by my best friend Zoe’s Dad.
“Well, the pay makes it worthwhile,” said my Mom.
Portia let out her loud infectious laughter. “My dear, we all envy you there but I doubt I’d survive the work at Neumann and Neumann for a week.”
“And I’m going on three years. You know, I’m beginning to feel burned out and would love to hand in my resignation.”
After a pause, Portia asked, “Are you serious?”
“Yes. Because of this job, I don’t even have time for my daughter anymore and all I get from those senior partners is ingratitude.”
“Even senior Mr Neumann?”
“He’s the worst. Nasty-tempered Mr Neumann chewed me out because he missed a court appearance that I had recorded in his diary and put the file at the right place on his table the previous day.”
“What’s with him? He wanted you to take him to the court or even to argue the case for him?”
“Girl, I’ve had it up to here. I’d like to quit and move to Chapel Hill.”
My heart skipped a beat as I continued to eavesdrop. Move? She must be kidding. How much worse can things get?
“So, what’s stopping you? After working for Neumann and Neumann, any law firm would be glad to hire you.” Portia asked my Mom.
“I’d really love to move back near my family but can’t because of Judie.”
“Children adapt easily and it will do you both good”
“Right now, I’m not her favorite person and the very idea of making her leave her friends and the home where we lived with Matt will make her more miserable.”
As I tiptoed back to my room, I heard my Mom add, “I can’t do that to her.”
Overhearing this, I began to understand my own role in the situation. My Mom really was doing her best for me; and how have I repaid her? Alone in my room, I picked up Pinkie and said, “Perhaps I wasn’t ready for the move earlier, but now I want to do what’s best for my Mom and me.”
An hour later, my Mom called out for me to come down for dinner. As we ate, I noticed for the first time the stress lines on her face and the strands of grey in her hair. Suddenly I remembered all the time I heard my Mom crying at night and yet she maintained a cheerful front.
After dinner, my Mom asked in an ebullient voice, “Do you need help with any homework, honey?”
“No, Mom. I’m cool.” I said, with a genuine smile on my face.
She looked at me quizzically but said, “I’m very sorry I missed the PTA meeting today.”
“It’s okay, Mom. I understand,” I said, smiling. Then I continued, “I’m ready for us to move to Chapel Hill or anywhere else.”
“You were eavesdropping.”
“I’m sorry, Mom but it made me see how selfish I’ve been.”
My Mom was pleasantly surprised and her smile broadened.
I felt I needed to convince her that I was no longer angry. “Mom, I’m sorry for being such a pain in the neck.”
Her eyes brimmed over as she took my hands. “No baby, you’re the one person that has kept me going and happy.”
I hugged my Mom. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you so much, sweetie,” she said hugging me tightly.
We both cried in each other’s arms.

FAB/June 19, 2009

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2 comments:

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  2. When I saw this article, I remember my mother with me live together from my nine years old until now. I know how difficult in our life! Lose my father let me felt sad when I am a child. When I first time meet Faith, I felt she is a optimistic person, because she always laugh in class. I know why she always laugh in class until today. I really admire my teacher---Faith

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