My intuition has served me well over the past few years.
It has offered guidance, warning, assurance.
I trust it.
I trust it more than the attrition of an honest man or the poetry of a player. It is because my instinct is so well-honed that the future has become unnerving for me. Just out of view, but with its shadow looming, I sense a darkness approaching.
Every Fall, I return to Winnipeg to visit my mom. I enjoy spending Halloween with her and witnessing her glee as she decorates the house with all things frightful (this year included a life-size skeleton and dangling paper pumpkins that she hung above the doorways, similar to how one hangs mistletoe at Christmas). She is also immensely happy handing out candy to the neighbourhood kids that come to her door, informing me of every detail of their costumes. It is somewhat contradictory to the level of detail that is provided for other areas of her life though. Areas that concern me greatly but that are laughed off as comical circumstance.
At the start of my visit, my mother reminded me about how she structures her week. There is often a bus trip to the nearest shopping mall to stock up on groceries and other items of need, never want. My mother lives frugally. On one recent occasion she was terribly embarrassed by tripping and falling as she exited the bus. She blamed construction that was adjacent to the stop but was quick to praise the driver who got up to ensure that she was okay. I prodded further, but she quickly dropped the subject and the conversation was closed.
Once might be a folly, but a few days later she told me of another incident of tripping and falling as she exited the bus. "I bruised my leg," she stated with a slight laugh "but I'm okay." I sensed that these were words she told herself for reassurance but that she was, in actuality, scared. Scared of aging. Scared of being alone. Scared of the unknown. My mother has been an absolute trooper in her life of undeserved tragedy. I feel especially protective about her wellness and peace of mind.
"You need to visit your doctor, mom. You need a check-up. I don't want you getting hurt."
This didn't go over very well and, as before, walls went up. Her tone becoming increasingly agitated by my questioning of her ability. And so I dropped it, not wanting to risk congeniality for the sake of argument. But as the week wore on, I continued to look for signs in her language that may be speaking to a bigger truth.
I think a lot.
About things great and small.
It is in this solace with my thoughts that I realize something is amiss.
I was very excited to spend one evening cooking with my mom. Me. The mooch who never even made my own peanut butter sandwiches growing up now showing my mom that I can create a dish worthy of Gordon Ramsay's praise. He's one of her weird crushes. Another I have to mention, because it's so cute and needs to be recorded for posterity, is Josh Flagg of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. She knows he's gay. She enjoyed watching his wedding on the show.
As I started prepping vegetables, I watched as my mom struggled to set the oven. Her eyes trying to focus, her finger shaking slightly as she contemplated which buttons to press.
"Do you need help?" I asked.
"NO." she replied firmly. "I know how to do it."
I continued seasoning the potatoes we were about to roast while also observing. It took her a long time to perform a task that I assumed she did regularly. I tried bringing the matter up again, albeit indirectly, but my mom realized my trickery and again communicated that she was fine and not to bother worrying about her. It is hard not to though. My mom is one of my reasons for living. The love in my heart exists for her. She is the only connection to my past and the living embodiment of memories from a bygone era.
In addition to being greatly concerned about her physical and mental health, I harbour my own fears while watching her.
I am also scared of aging. I am scared of being alone. I am scared of the unknown.
Of late, my intuition has been gently telling me to ready my emotional armour. It has a few chinks in it. I trust it will be strong enough for whatever lays ahead.