Today I make a long hard journey to be by my Moms side. I will take in the crisp fresh country air, witness the splendor and glory of fall, and relish in the chance to see my Mom and spend precious time with her. We live far, far away from one another. An ocean and a continent away I am feeling sad today Wishing for brilliant orange, red, yellow leaves The brisk chill of frosty air Warmed by your hug and smile a cup of hot coffee and conversation I bask in the presence of your love I am getting that wish I longed for in this poem, and I am happy, and I am sad. Lost Dad three years ago after a six year battle of series of illness. His dogged determination to live was...unbelievable. He is still here with us, watching over, waiting for my Mom. He appears intermittently in a flash on her computer screen, an old photo she filed a couple years back, that mysteriously keeps popping up. His old documents sporadically show up on her desk top. He comes to me in songs, and moments, he loved the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and told us he was a rock, a tree, a bird. In the throes of his illness, I, desperate to go to my family, but unable due to distance, obligations, time, would go to the sea for comfort, and there would appear a beautiful white tern flying above me. Dad. I would journey home six times through his six year fight. After his passing, through my trials with my difficult children, I would constantly find beautiful feathers, glistening on the ground. Dad. I have collected them in a vase on my bureau. My difficult child sent me a picture of her youngest in a text. They were at a beach party. There was my granddaughter, in the evening, impish smile.I noticed a white orb behind her. I called my daughter and thanked her for the photo, "What is that in the background?" "Mom, there was nothing behind her." I expanded the photo and was astounded to see the filmy cloud enlarge to an image of a face of a man with glasses looking at my grandchild. The spitting image of... Dad. Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer just three short months after his passing. She barely had enough time to grieve her husbands death. She picked herself up by the bootstraps and underwent chemo, felt disgustingly ill and tired, lost her hair, built her courage in spite of it all, and has managed to survive three years, after being told at best she had six months. Mom. When I told her on her anniversary this summer that I was not sending her flowers, that I was sending her me, on this trip, she cried with joy. " I haven't seen you in nearly two years, her voice wavered and we broke down together as I do now, writing this. You see, she called me recently telling me she had a bout of coughing up blood-" Now don't worry it was just a little for three days and now it stopped. I will go to the doctors and let them know, I am sure it is nothing." I shoved back tears and worry, and said "Yes Mom, you have had a cold, maybe it is just an irritation. Let's be positive and think the best." Hung up and cried, racking, sobbing tears. Mom. I called her over the weekend. Her doctor wants to do a bronchoscopy, to see what is going on, the trouble is when she was first diagnosed, they did one and her gag reflex was so strong she stopped breathing. She nearly died, they had to "bag" her. This is the same procedure Joan Rivers had. I gently asked her why she needed to do it, swallowing my fears and my urge to impose my wishes on her NOT to do it. Old fashioned, retired R.N. response, "Oh Dear, my Doctor will be disappointed with me if I don't do it. He said if it is a spot, they can just zap it with one bit of radiation and that should take care of it." "Okay Mom, it is your body, your decision, I will support you and back you up, but I am worried." Monday she called and told me her appointment is on the 9th, apologetically, "I don't want to spoil your trip and your plans, but it is the first available spot, and there won't be another one for awhile. Your brother will take me and pick me up." Her voice got small and shaky "But I don't want to spend the night alone, I just need someone to be with me." " Mom, of course I will be there, I will make adjustments." We fly back on the 11th and had planned to make our way to Boston, stay with my sister overnight at her friends horse rescue farm, leave early morning, return our rental and catch the T into the city the day before the long trip home. I called my girls and told them we were changing our plans and going by what the cards were now dealing. Happy and sad, thankful to see my Mom and be with her. Sad and scared for what is to be. Our parents passing is inevitable. It is a dark unavoidable chasm in our lives. I relish the thought of being in her embrace. I will spend time with my older sister, who encouraged my pixie cut, so we could be "twins" again. She was my childhood tormentor along with my brother, they were partners in relentless bullying. They tease me about my memories in poetry. I have learned to overcome the small child feelings, my sister has apologized, my brother remains stoic-"it wasn't that bad". We shall have some wine together, and I will play songs from the 70's on Youtube, while we sing along loudly, badly, unabashedly. My little sister is coming up from Pennsylvania for the weekend. Business like and wise from years of learning from our mistakes, she has become Mom's caretaker. So many memories. So many feelings. I am going home. It will be a whirlwind trip, 12 hour flight, 2 hour car ride, 6 hour time adjustment, 10 days. I am going home.