Two years ago, my mother visited us from India for my daughter’s birthday in New Jersey. She was gently light on my weight gain and approved my mocha streaked hair. Like the wise men from the East mom came bearing gifts. A pink birthday gown for my daughter, cotton tunics for me, linen shirts for my husband and sweetmeats rich in butter and nuts. Throughout the week she fished out more gifts, a pair of jewel encrusted earrings, sandalwood incense cones, a palm leaf face mask and a pair of terracotta brown horses. Mom’s whimsy choices expressed her appreciation of daily life.
Mom is a beauty with doe shaped brown eyes, an aquiline nose, a swarm of black white hair with a gentle sunshine demeanor. As a mother of three kids with my father working out of town, and a house swarming with needy relatives she had her cart full. Depending on the twin resources of time and money she worked an off and on teaching job. But despite an iron clad schedule that would shame an army general, she managed to imbue the ordinary with a twist of pizzazz: like lacing the rice pudding with a dash of saffron or adorning a plain beret with crochet flowers. Loved for her hospitality I believe she can cup the wind in her hand and blow it to ease the furrows of any one’s life.
After a week she inquired, ” what’s going on?” This was not a how are you type of what’s going on but more like what happened to you. She waved her arm around and I looked at my house through her eyes. My dwelling like me looked in transition mode. There were no conversation starters, no remember we bought this together kind of artifacts. It was a house offering shelter not a dwelling of forward happening hopes and aspirations. Everything was unpacked from my Pandora bracelets to my thoughts. It was my eighth house in a decade, and I had lost the zing.
“What are you doing over the weekend? “her question wafted at teatime.
“Some friends coming over ” I muttered.
“What are you wearing? Are you going to make the rainbow sandwiches?” she persisted.
“Mom it’s still four days away. Oh, ok I get you,” I sighed.
She was giving me the looking forward to or LFT therapy. As kids, she always had something special planned for the weekend that made us look forward to it the entire week, like the bottling of jams and pickles or decorating the altar with orange marigolds and green mango leaves. Over time we imbibed it as the LFT therapy, and it helped us connect the dots along life’s pathways besides netting us in pitfalls of apathy. In the eight weeks of her stay like a patient gardener she weeded out my doubts and beamed her advice on corners of my life needing clarity.
“It’s like nobody is aware of my existence and I am only responsible for my husband and child,” I grumbled, whilst hanging a yellow wrought iron horse on a black dresser. “
“Then just do that well and everything else will fall into place,” she cold splashed me.
For several years mom fought a losing battle with my father’s debilitating illness but even during that crushing phase the LFT moments threaded one day to another, such that the days became bearable whilst the years stood unbearably long. In those days LFT was not an outing but merely drinking a cup of tea with family or watching thirty minutes of screen time.
We baked pies and planted a herb garden. As I began to look forward to the little things in life a gaping hole within of uncertainty began to lose its sting. It was summer and we took mom to Bradley Beach, Cape may, Cape Cod. Her physical stamina was weak, but her soul’s vigor ploughed her days with the newness of little joys and grand sights. She would pick up two brochures one to peer into, then led by us, second to take for her grandkids in India. My daughter’s birthday dawned and mom stitched wing thin sleeves on to my baby’s gown , cooked her famed chickpea curry tinged with the sourness of pomegranate seeds , inserted red watermelon and orange grapefruit wedges between the food array, and thumbs upped my black attire with a dazzle of stars on its bodice.
Mom is now in India and we just chatted on the phone. She was delighted seeing my family photos with cherry blossom trees in New Jersey. I smiled as she picked my brain while differentiating the shades of pink. I bid bye to mom, grabbed the dragon kite my daughter and I had labored over and headed outdoors. Soon our art piece was climbing the sky powered by the wind and my daughter’s joyous screams.
We will shift house again but my mother’s gift of LFT ensures that our lives are not a stagnant pool of waiting for things to happen but a river of possibilities, the only way of discovering a wonderful world at our doorstep.