His schedule burgeoned and one more trip couldn't come at a worse time. The “fasten seat belt” sign went on, the captain's voice instructed them to put their seats in an upright position, the plane bumped to the tarmac, passengers rushed to get the overhead luggage, then waited to unload, to rush to the carousel to wait for the luggage to bump out, then the rent-a-car desk and finally confusion to find the right freeway. It reminded him of the horses at the starting gate.
He failed to understand why his mother moved someplace so remote after a successful and exciting career. Although she gave no such indication, perhaps she'd lost touch with what he faced every day - cut throat competition and rapidly changing technology, Mendocino was like stepping back in time and she wanted so much to share it with him. She insisted he needed to slow down before he burned himself out, but this was his first trip.
Death never appeared as a total surprise at her age, only the time it happened, but even the time seemed wrong. He admitted the right time failed to exist. He wanted answers and meaning in his life. He wanted purpose. His throat caught as he remembered and admitted how their talks always helped.
The town names were new, but the businesses he passed were the same: Home Depot, McDonald, Starbucks, Chevron. Cars zoomed from lane-to-lane like a race track to oblivion. Finally, the last off ramp. Highway 128 curved into trees and fields of grapes and cast a tranquil spell from the senseless rush of the Freeway. Instead of the self-imposed blitzkrieg of city driving the curves felt soothing like a mother rocking a child. A mute fell softening the sound. Along the narrow road an old barn defied age and still stood full of character and tales of the past. Outside Boonville the Redwoods began and soared to form a canopy and speckle the road beneath with sun and shadow.
At the top of a curve weaving along the river, the ocean rolled to the shore – he'd reached the edge of the continent. Ravens glided and swooped in a festive chase, then as if forgetting themselves corrected their lighthearted aerodynamics to merge in a garden and steal refreshments. A few lined the fence and watched while they contemplated the scene like somber judges waiting to form an opinion.
Farther on the beach was sprinkled with a few people, some with their dogs who scampered ahead to chase happiness. A group of teenagers searched for driftwood and carried it to a fire ring preparing for a wiener bake when the sun went down. There were trees and flowers everywhere.
He parked to watch the sunset, the perfect place for reflection and found himself drenched with peace. Every beautiful thing seemed to converge. The varied rhythm of the waves washed to shore softly, then swept against the rocks before swishing back to sea. The sun started to sink leaving behind only an afterglow but he felt his mother say good-bye.
Lynne Whiting Robertson Mother Oil on canvas
click image to enlarge
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