After an incredible visit to Nicaragua, my mother boarded a plane flying her away from the Emerald Coast and landing back into the Arizona desert.
One might have suspected that spending two weeks under the same roof as my mother would trigger some anxiety; that we would slip into mother-daughter roles laced with irritability or impatience with each other.
There was some of that. At times, my teenage self re-emerged with defiance that barely seemed to have been dormant.
Especially when I was driving. “MOM. I DO know how to DRIVE. I see the pig in the road and the “No Hay Paso” sign. I got it.”
But, those lowlights were few and far between. What mostly transpired during her time here was exactly what I hoped my mother would experience.
She, like so many of us, finds herself at crossroads, or even at what feels like an impasse.
It’s not just the pandemic that halted and changed our direction, but life itself, disrupting our carefully laid plans, as life tends to do.
Mom is young but retired. Widowed, but full of life herself. Her children are grown, raising children of their own. She has time, youth, and health on her side.
For the third time, mom traveled to Nicaragua to visit me after what had been a god-awful year for most of the world.
Chatting over dirty martinis, sitting on my porch, and playing with my feisty cat, she told me she came here to fully be a mom to me.
I thought for a minute but then told her “no”, that I didn’t want her visit to be that kind of trip this time. I only wanted her to be my mom 20% of the time. (Okay, maybe 40%).
What I truly wanted her to take from this trip was the feeling of being wholly herself.
To be fully in the moment. I wanted her to enjoy her days as she wanted, not by following scripted and detailed itineraries I could have planned for her.
The last few years, life dealt her a few blows that left her with far less happiness than she planned. I wanted her to do all the things she truly enjoyed doing. I wanted her to rediscover her happy.
Turns out, her happy was right where she left it:
- It was by the blue ocean, on the sandy beach, in the panga boats, under the hot sun.
- It was in the rock music of live bands, on the dance floor, drinking rum.
- It was reflected in the tide pools, floating in the estuaries, drifting down the lazy rivers.
- It was in the sunset-lit happy hours, the poolside picnics, and the smell of fresh coffee in the lazy hammock mornings.
- It was long talks and walks with me about life, family, travel, purpose, hope, pain, love, and the future.
So much of her happy she found here. I saw my mom light up in all the ways I hadn’t seen her light up in years.
She was engaged in story-telling, laughing and reconnecting with others, walking along the shore, dreaming of possibilities.
It hurt, as always, holding on tightly to that final hug as long as we could, before she moved past immigration and disappeared into the terminal beyond.
But I’m proud of her and how she spent her time here.
I know she’s been inspired by the life and happiness she felt. And she flew home hopeful that she can create more of these experiences in her own future.
Back to those crossroads I mentioned, I’m not sure what her next direction will be, or which road she’ll take.
But two things I know for sure:
She’ll be back, and she’ll be happy.
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