My next post was going to be about hate, but this morning on the train I had an epiphany; sometimes it the little things that matter most. I learned that from my mother yesterday. She’s 86 years young and has been a great sage all of my life. She retired about 25 years ago and always talked about going back to her former job to see what it looked like and to see if any of her old co-workers were still around. So we went there yesterday. She was so excited and I could see the joy on her face as we rode the Red Line train and the bus to the North side of Chicago. She looked at everything with the eyes of a child, with wonder and excitement, as if she was seeing everything for the first time. My parents moved to Chicago from Arkansas in the 1940’s during the second Great Migration. Even her voice was animated and she talked all the way from the South side to the North side about everything, current events, people on the train, places she used to go and the things she used to do. She talked about arriving at the 12th Street Station on Roosevelt Road (which is no longer there) on the City of New Orleans train, as a young woman in her early 20’s with a husband and two kids, in search of a better life, and never knowing she was a part of history. All I could think about was how courageous my parents were to leave the Deep South and travel north, with nothing more than two suitcases and a bunch of hopes and dreams.
My mother loves to sightsee. She can sit and look at people and things all day and never get bored. Although shy, she really is a people person at heart, and she just loved being out among them yesterday. There was something about that simple outing that just seemed kind of magical, and I know whenever I think of her in the future, I will remember how happy she was and I was glad to play a small part in it. I also learned from her that as you get older, memories mean a lot. I guess, because as you age, they start to fade, and it may also feel like your whole life is starting to fade, and you straggle to hold on to whatever fragments you can. Memories, especially good ones are worth more than gold, they are treasures that you try to store away in your heart and mind for later use. Let the bad ones fade but store the good ones, no matter how small, and when you grow older, you can withdraw some like my mother did yesterday.