She Came by Train

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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.

14 thoughts on “She Came by Train

  1. You captured that moment so well. My mom was not on the cart, but it was her hands reaching for something and me noticing she could no longer straighten out all her fingers. The moment of awareness. Acceptance comes later.

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  2. Since my recovery from cancer, I, too, am in the cart whenever I go to the airport and return home. I can no longer carry my bags, or even pull them, the insanely long distances that now exist in airport hubs that you must traverse to get to the gate. I know that it would surprise anyone who knows me to see me sitting in the wheelchair, and being wheeled to the gate, but this is a change that was necessary. That your mine is still making a nine-hour train trip to see you is remarkable and laudable. I am sure she is wondering how much longer she can do it…and so are you. Love her with all your heart while you still have her.

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  3. A beautiful piece of writing. I’m just back from a day with my eighty-three-year-old mom. Watching her slow down makes me really sad. You captured it beautifully!

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  4. When we don’t see them regularly, we notice these changes. I’m visiting my parents and hearing tales about how they are slowing down. Slow is good. I fear the quick changes. The unexpected ones. Take time to enjoy each moment.

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  5. I read this with a tear, I understand with a tear. My own mother is showing signs of early dementia, and it is so hard. I hope you enjoy the time with her and treasure each moment.

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  6. How well you describe the surprise that overtakes us when we notice the aging process in one we love. I remember well how I felt with my own mother. I’m also at the age when I sense by their words and expressions that our own children are noticing us aging. It’s not easy, but it does remind us to make the most of our time together.

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  7. So well said with just a few words! It gave me that same lump in my throat with tears. I know this feeling. I have been here before. I also know that this is something my children are starting to see in me. I am still caring my bags and holding my own but I know in the future this is coming and so do they. So well said – thanks for sharing.

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