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Portfolio: Rides of Passage

Matter 10 Village: A Journal of Literature, Art, & Movement (June 2007)

Mount Chephren rose from across the lake.  I let my gaze wander up its craggy face.  At the point where the crest kissed the sky, I felt a distinct vibration in my chest. The mountain was sending me a message.  It didn’t speak to me in some cartoonish way, pursing its rocky lips and booming some proclamation of wisdom.  No, this was a sudden flood of fatherly feeling that tumbled down the hillside and swept across the lake like a searchlight sighting me on the opposite shore, a daughter stark against the sand in her turquoise jacket and black lycra shorts.  When my mother walked up next to me, about to speak, I silenced her with one forefinger against my lips.  As we stood in the light, I knew my father was with us again for a brief time.

Eight years later, my mother experienced a different kind of flood.  She was not cycling but singing with her chorale group in California.  The notes suddenly went blurry and seemed to lift off the page in a swirling cyclone of confusion as she collapsed to the ground.  Among the bevy of concerned, silver heads that encircled her, someone finally found feet to call 911.

My husband handed me the phone that evening.  I listened to my uncle’s voice, calm but direct, while I sat on the couch nursing my eight-month-old daughter.  I processed the messenger’s information.  One:  Her stroke could have been worse.  Two:  Physically she was fine, but they did suspect a fair amount of memory loss.  Three:  She was now on a blood-thinner medication that she’d probably have to take for the rest of her life.

A life.  A lifetime.  The following year we moved her out to Colorado where her bicycle took up a space in her garage, and sighed all the air out of its tires.