Before the Stay-Home order
“You better not be calling me to cancel,” my mom said when she came to the phone.
“Mom,” I answered, “I know this is important to you, but I just want to be clear about the situation. I live near the place where the first Covid-19 death happened and there’s a chance I may have been exposed before they started informing us. I could be carrying the virus even without showing symptoms.”
This was before it had spread, before it was called a pandemic, and I was being overly cautious in the minds of many.
“I’ve got no illusions about how much time I have left,” she said, “and I’d rather finish this project than worry about something that I can’t do anything about and doesn’t much matter.”
“I thought you would say that,” I said.
We agreed that I would pick her up the next day.
A few years ago she wrote a cookbook for my daughter who was getting married and since then, has been working on it to expand and polish it for publication. She has friends, some of whom are no longer with us, that were waiting to buy copies to give to their grandchildren. It was my idea to add stories to the cookbook because every recipe has a context that people might appreciate knowing.
For the past several months we were trying to get time on the calendar so we could go away together and spend a full week working on it.
This was it.
Nancy was born during the Depression, became a schoolteacher, lived through the fifties and sixties, moved to Mexico in the seventies and lived there for twenty years. When she returned to the US at the age of 59, she went back to college and got a doctorate in Law with an Indian Law certification. She joined the District Attorney’s office in Tulsa and was an assistant District Attorney in Juvenile Court and Drug Court till she was 70 years old.
She got the nickname Perry Mason because she had a few people confess on the stand. According to her, they were decent kids and she used the ‘mother’ look on them.
Which was no surprise to me.
We drove out to Ocean Shores together, a three-hour drive, and talked about social justice, and about whether it’s possible to sponsor Dreamers, and lots of other things.
She wrote for hours every day and got through every story on the list.
And we binge-watched “The Good Place” together in the evenings.
It’s been long enough now for me to know for certain that I wasn’t carrying the virus and didn’t expose my mom to it, and I’m glad she pushed for that time together.
I have a golden week, a memory of time together with my mom in her winter years, without interruption or crisis or cloud of any kind.
She is 89 years old now, and she and my Dad are still living on their own, and as mentally sharp as a person twenty years younger than them.
Still setting examples to learn from.