I arrived five minutes early to meet her train that ended up pulling into the station thirty minutes late. I didn’t mind the wait. It was quiet in my car. I caught up on email and read my book. It felt good to slow down.
When I heard the rumble of the approaching train, I walked out to the platform, and tried to figure out where to stand so that I would be close to the door from which my mom would emerge. The train slowed, then stopped ,and four doors opened, the furthest ones almost a football field’s length away from me in either direction. So I stood in the middle and scanned right, then left, up and back. I was surprised by the number of people getting off.
The platform became crowded and trying to spot my mom was hard. I knew she would be tired after the nine hour trip. I wanted to be able to take her bags and give her my arm. But as the last passengers stepped off the train, I still hadn’t found her. There was a friend’s mom, but not mine. We hugged quickly, my eyes searching over her shoulder.
Where was my mom, I wondered? I decided to walk in the direction of the Quiet car. That is where she usually sits. The crowd was thinning, and I noticed people stepping out of the way for the courtesy cart that was transporting older travelers. My eyes moved beyond the cart, looking for my mom’s elegant, familiar frame.
“Lisa!” My gaze shifted to the foreground, where I’d heard her voice, and then to the cart, moving towards me. There she was, sitting next to the driver, her arm extending out, her hand reaching for me.
My mom was in the cart.
With old people. She looked tired and small. She smiled a small smile. I held her hand and walked alongside the cart until the kind driver stopped near my parked car.
My mom was on the cart.
She stepped off carefully, as I reached for her bags. This year she didn’t insist on carrying them to my car. This time she quietly thanked me and walked gingerly to my car. I swallowed the lump in my throat as I noticed how much she had slowed down.