5.08.2012

riding bikes

I just got off of the phone with my mom. She's recovering from endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography surgery, having had some bile stones removed. She'd been on some pain killers and some sleeping aids that were causing her to slur her words, so I asked her if she was drunk. "Not yet," she quipped, even though she has probably never been drunk a day in her life and hasn't had alcohol since being diagnosed with Alzheimer's nearly eleven years ago. After speaking with Mom I always get to reminiscing . . .

When I was a little girl I lived at the end of a long, sloping gravel road so I didn’t learn how to ride a bicycle until I was seven—no flat tarmac to roll along.

One day I asked my mom if she wanted to go for a bike ride in the nearby paved neighborhood, even though I had never seen her on a bike. But, delighted with the surprise invitation from her littlest of six, she happily agreed, so we grabbed our bikes and pushed them up the rocky road, then mounted them and sailed off down the quiet, shaded street.

After we had ridden a few blocks we turned right to coast downhill between the modest pastel homes, each with its small grassy front yard apron. Warm wind fingered through our hair, hers short brown and slightly quaffed and mine straight, long and thin, shiny and golden. Her white and red printed smock ruffled at her sides like a Spanish dancer in a drifting current. I closed my eyes and let go for a few seconds, sopping up sun rays on my thin tan arms. Clear tick-ticking of the freewheel offset the flat humming of our wide, slightly deflated tires rubbing against the hot pavement. I glanced back at my mom, so fair, plump and pretty, and she smiled. I smiled back. It was a perfect moment.

We leisurely passed a house where a friend was bouncing a basketball in her driveway. The girl called out to ask if I wanted to play. I looked at my mom questioningly and she just replied “okay” and continued on peddling around the square block for home. As she rode away out of sight I felt empty, sad and lonely. We never got to ride bikes together again.

I think of that moment a lot, miss her terribly and in my mind I go on bike rides with her and Calvin all the time.

Version originally published 1.23.11.

Mom

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