As my social media connections know, I have been playing hooky this week. My son has come to Kansas City to commune with Mom and the old dog amidst the flotsam and jetsam of his childhood life. Later this week, his girlfriend arrives. They’ll tour the city and see everything he remembers; all the places which we frequented, the restaurants that he likes; the streets and parks of this town which comprise the fabric of his younger years.
In the mornings and evenings we sit over coffee or drinks. I study his face, looking for the vagaries of youth. They don’t exist anymore. The lines have smoothed. Occasionally a flicker of concern darts across the strong features of my son’s complex heritage. But in general, he’s come into himself, confident and complacent. Even his discontent takes solid form. He wants to live his values, his politics as he says. He wants to pursue endeavors which serve the dictates of his social conscience.
We walk down a sidewalk in City Market talking of other days when we’ve walked together. We sit in a restaurant gazing around at the other patrons, mentioning other meals we’ve shared. We start our sentences with remembrances. We hit upon a fragment of an event and chase the illusive details until we’re sure of what happened.
We drove downtown by way of Troost so he could see the long wide vista of this city from my eyes. I parked in a bus stop with my flashers activated so he could take a picture. Once downtown, we found a place along 12th street and left the car to walk towards the federal courthouse. I sat on a park bench outside of City Hall while he went the last few blocks alone. From the small rise over Oak Street, I could see the courthouse where I practice. The differing perspective awakened a mild curiosity in my breast. Changing my point of view always refreshes my outlook.
Later I stopped the car in a crosswalk so he could walk behind the half-circle of the Federal courthouse to photograph it from that angle. I watched him with no small measure of amazement. My boy. But also: a man, fully grown, composed, with decades stretching out ahead of him, waiting to be filled. I could not be more proud.
I would not change a thing about my son, though if I could, I would rewrite some of my own conduct in his rearing. I’ve been told by several people that I failed as a mother. But he seems to have overcome whatever deficiency I brought to bear. Perhaps, after all, I can be forgiven.
It’s the nineteenth day of the forth-third month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.