My mother passed to what most people call heaven, several weeks ago. I have truly lost track of the time and I will admit openly here that I am still in shock. I live in Colorado, my mom was in an assisted living home in NY. She donated her body to science and it was gone almost before my sister called to tell me the bad news.
I'm left with all the challenges that come with losing a parent. People express sympathy and say losing your mother is a big deal. And so it is. But, my mother and I had a unique love-hate relationship. I may write about that in time, it's comical at points and full of tragedy at others. However, right now, today, and for the near future, I think of my mother as a truck driver.
No, she never actually drove a truck. She wanted to. That's the key. She once told me, "I want to drive a truck before I die! A big semi-trailer."
She laughed when she said it. Her eyes were big, round, full of the excitement she was feeling about this possibility.
"Why would you want to drive a truck?" I asked. I was mystified. Driving a truck is certainly not on my bucket list.
"I don't know," she shrugged. "I just do. They're so big! They take up the whole road and nobody messes with a big rig coming down the road!"
My mother the truck driver. The concept was more than laughable, it was unbelievable.
The conversation moved on. We left the idea of my mother being a truck driver behind us. I don't remember ever speaking of it again. But, I do, once in awhile, imagine my mother as a truck driver. I imagine her up there, tooting her horn (is that what it is, a horn? the thing they toot when kids go by and make that pulling down gesture? you know what I mean, you've done it yourself, I know you have). I can see her with her face concentrating on the traffic in Atlanta or Philadelphia, as she delivers whatever cargo is in her trailer. Her face is tight, eyes on the road ahead, lips in a line, her focus fully on the trip, and the long line of cars in her way, ahead.
My mother will never get to drive a truck. That opportunity passed long ago. Years ago. These last few years have been difficult ones for her. Not so much because her health was slowly beginning to decline - she was 88 when she had her heart attack - but because she was carted about like a piece of luggage. This is no one's fault, mind you. After my Dad passed, my mother was no longer able to drive or fully care for herself. She dreamed out loud of spiders on the wall and angry men pounding on her door, in the middle of the night.
My sisters back in NY took care of her and fought to make sure she was in the best home they could find. But, the system is not concerned with the happiness or welfare of our elderly. The system, given the cost of healthcare for the elderly, required moving my mother around from place to place. At the end of her life, she lived closest to my youngest sister, who could visit and cheer her up, more often than I! I have felt for a long time that I was not much help to them as they searched for the best places and took care of her medical needs. All of my sisters were her devoted caregivers those last years of her life. But, my mother only grew more worried about strange things; she did have some medical problems - and seemed happier when a doctor or nurse was giving her care, than being alone in her room. On good days, I heard she played cards with other residents, she laughed, and she boasted that she was a fast healer, when this or that medical problem was presented to the staff.
I would call her on the phone, or she would call me, and we would talk about her ailments, her card playing, and often, she would relate news that I'd heard from her only a few days before. She would ask questions about stories we'd discussed two weeks ago, and suddenly remember that, oh yes, we'd already decided that. I rarely heard anger or frustration in her voice, which was unusual. I occasionally tried to cheer her up, talking about years passed, or telling her exciting news on my end. I am not certain she ever heard me. The calls we had were short, she was never one to go on, with me. I know she talked far more extensively to my sisters, who lived nearby and visited often. When my sisters would call and tell me what was happening - a sudden visit to the hospital, perhaps - I would feel helpless because I wasn't there, I wasn't able to just hop on a plane and go to NY. Sigh
My mother was a truck driver, in wishing only. She could have been a truck driver, in her youth. I think sometimes that she could have been the first woman truck driver - paving a path for others, as she barreled down Rt 81 or cross country on Rt 66. She would have been a happy truck driver. The power of being so high, above others, sitting pretty in the catbird seat, so to speak, totally in charge of something that outweighed much of everything else on the road, yes, that would have made her happy enough to grin and laugh and wave at all the kids in cars going by.
If you see a woman truck driver, as you travel wherever it is you'll be travelling on your next trip, think of my mother. What a delight she would have been behind the wheel of a big rig.