My three children and I were in upstate New York. This was a long time ago, and we were making our annual summer trek around New England to visit family and friends. We had just finished touring the Utica Club Brewery, one of my favorite childhood destinations, a tour that ends with a complimentary beer or root beer in a Victorian saloon. We were all tired. I was chatting with my parents while my children wandered around, trying out various red velvet chairs.
I was sitting on one of those red chairs when my son came up to me and wordlessly sat on my lap. Reading this poem below, by the wondrous Ada Limon, brings the moment rushing back over me. He was almost twelve at the time, not much shorter than me, his tall mother, and it had been a long time since he sat on my lap. I put my arms around him the way I always used to and held him tight. Time was rushing by me, by us, by our family and the world, and I remember thinking Is this the last time? –it was–Will he ever do this again?–he didn’t. I’m sitting here now remembering that moment, and picturing my son and his sisters, grown and scattered around the country. I don’t love anything in the world the way I love them.
The Raincoat, by Ada Limon
When the doctor suggested surgery
and a brace for all my youngest years,
my parents scrambled to take me
to massage therapy, deep tissue work,
osteopathy, and soon my crooked spine
unspooled a bit, I could breathe again,
and move more in a body unclouded
by pain. My mom would tell me to sing
songs to her the whole forty-five minute
drive to Middle Two Rock Road and forty-
five minutes back from physical therapy.
She’d say that even my voice sounded unfettered
by my spine afterward. So I sang and sang,
because I thought she liked it. I never
asked her what she gave up to drive me,
or how her day was before this chore. Today,
at her age, I was driving myself home from yet
another spine appointment, singing along
to some maudlin but solid song on the radio,
and I saw a mom take her raincoat off
and give it to her young daughter when
a storm took over the afternoon. My god,
I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her
raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel
that I never got wet.
For more information on Ada Limon, please check out her website.