These got surrendered to the person who is making a new home.
There is no way to walk away from an internal hope that home might for a brief second feel like it once did.
Except to put keys on a table and, after lengthy and heated discussions, push them into waiting hands.
Florence, too, pushed, keys to new homes across many tables into waiting hands.
Keys to new ideas, new practices, new worlds, new ways of walking down a street, literally and metaphorically.
She said, "Why don't you keep a diary?" I was 12. It was learning to
risk a full sentence. It was a bridge over a moat of silence. It was a
coat of armor in the middle of battles. It was a way out of hell.
She said, "Go see this movie. It's important." I was 13. It was Jules Et Jim. It was 8 1/2. It was A Man And A Woman. It was the unexpected moment when I suddenly saw for the first time what my thoughts looked like. It was important.
And there were keys she didn't realize she was giving. Like the ones to my own home, found after months of wandering from place to place, the fight between us too permanent, that even though I still had keys to her home, that door was no longer mine to open.
Years later, those keys had to become my sister's and mine so Florence could be safe in her own home. Pushed across a table made of lost health and a failing mind. Given reluctantly, given in fear, given barely trusting, given away and given up.
Yet, in surrendering those keys, the home she had always lived in became a home filled with mothering she had never known before. Those keys that once locked her door now opened it to care and nurturing and love. It was, finally, the home she had secretly dreamed of.
Whether any of us knew it or not, those keys were her last gift to us.
Because after those lengthy and heated discussions, those keys got pushed into new waiting hands, and in return, checks got pushed across the table to us.
And suddenly there were keys to a world only dreamed of, only seen in others' lives, only imagined.
After so many Mother's Day she scoffed at, not wanting to be thanked for giving birth or raising us, the most surprising gift she ever gave was the most motherly thing she ever did.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.