Monday, July 19, 2010

It's Always Different When It Happens to You

July 19, 2010

**If you read this in the southern accent that's in my head as I'm writin' this, it'll sound better. We're Oklahoma folk, originally. Although Grandma's been a transplanted Californian for several years, the accent is still unmistakable--unless you're Grandma, who doesn't think she has an accent.
I've been spending a lot of time with my grandma lately, and I've learned a thing or two about my mom that would have been useful information several years ago.

Grandma and I, in the course of our recent conversation, got to talking about when my young parents decided to pack up their three kids (in the days before numbers fours and five) and move from the mid-West out to California. "Do you know how I found out your mama was moving out to California?" I did not.

"Well, your mama had missed my graduation from nursing school, and I was wondering why." Honestly, I was surprised to hear that. My mom was very big on celebrating accomplishments. "Well, after we got home, a man from the fillin' station across the street came over and told us we had a phone call." (For those of you not of a certain era, gas stations used to be called 'filling stations'.) "We didn't have a phone at the time, but your mama somehow found out the number of the fillin' station to get ahold of us."

'Where are you?' she said, when she got to the phone.

'We're in California!'

'California? Why?'

'Well, we moved here.'

'You moved? Why didn't you let any of us know?'

'We just didn't want anybody fussin' at us about it, so we thought it'd be easier to tell you after we were already here.'

Seriously? My mom moved halfway across the country and didn't even give my grandparents advanced notice to get used to the idea? Or even to say goodbye to the grandkids? I would have been livid if that was me. (Bree, are you reading this? Whenever you plan to move away, have a chat with your mama first, huh?)

After she'd delivered the news, my mom started to complain to Grandma about how rough their trip had been. They even lost a mattress that had been tied to the top of their car and had run over it. It had apparently been quite a journey, especially with three kids under six.

Grandma told her she didn't care. "That's just good enough for ya--somebody that'll up and move without tellin' her mama!" She didn't have a bit of sympathy for her. She just didn't think my mom had done her right--and I can't say I blame her. She found out that my parents hadn't let dad's parents in on the secret, either. Grandma Mayes' response? "Why would you want to move out to California? All they do out there is lay on the beach and smoke marijuana." (By the way, that would be exactly the kind of reason lots of people might actually want to move out to California, if, in fact, it were true.) I imagine there were hard feelings on my grandparents' part for sometime after they got those phone calls.

So now, flash-forward several years, to the day I moved out of my mother's house. I was a college kid, in my second year. Mom's house was well-known among all of our friends as an open house kind of a place--Mom welcomed anybody, anytime. It was great, except that as a college student, I needed quiet and privacy to study, and there was so much distraction and temptation to be social at home, ironically. There was no fight, no falling out--we had a great relationship and were very close. I just wanted to be responsible so that I could focus on school. Mom was devastated.

I remember distinctly the day I pulled out of Mom's drive way toward my new home. She'd had weeks to get used to the idea, and had even helped me find my new apartment and pack for the move. The apartment was literally on the same street, just a mile up the road. And yet, as I pulled out of the driveway, she was sobbing, huge tears rolling down her face, saying over and over, "I'll never see you again! I 'll never see you again!" She had always been very good at the whole Mom Guilt Trip, with heaping side of the Over Dramatic. It almost made me want to stay, just because I felt like such a bad daughter, abandoning my mom.

And yet....when she moved? All the way to California?? Oh, man, if I had only known! Maybe I'd have taken off and let her know after the fact. You, know--so I didn't have to have anyone fussin' at me. I can just hear my grandma saying, "Well that's just good enough for ya!" I guess when it happened to her, it was a whole new ballgame.

1 comment:

  1. This is why parents never tell us anything, and probably why we leave out certain details of our pasts to our own children.