Aside from taking on-line IQ tests (Scores so far: 161, 105, 134 with the first one congratulating me on my above genius status and suggesting I buy their book), I have been tracking Helen on the iPad she gave me before taking off with Ian for Maryland. I followed their move from my driveway all the way back East. I felt relieved when I saw that they stopped for the night in Indiana but worried when the little circle with H in the middle seemed to be sitting on the side of a highway in West Virginia. Stopping to let dog Daisy pee was the best guess I could have and let’s not go into the worst. This is when it was time to take a break, get a glass of wine, and try another IQ test. Sure enough, when I looked again, that little circle was advancing.
Mothers must have been a lot tougher years ago. I’m talking about the days without cell phones and Face Time and Find My Friends. I’m talking about my own mother. At 23 I set off for Australia with a two-year teaching contract. Communication was a letter twice a month and on rare occasions brief phone calls. And even more frightening for her would have been when I left there at 26 to travel overland through Asia with an American girlfriend. To her dying day, thank goodness my mother never knew about the middle of the night taxi rides with male drivers who spoke no English (where were they taking us???), the mule ride up to the top of a volcano to look over the edge at sunrise (pretty cool), or the drug deals going down in the next room in the boarding house (we decided the student guide to Asia on $5 a day needed updating). Which reminds me that there are certainly advantages on both ends to not have those tracking devices.
I don’t remember if my mother and I had any last week mother/daughter bonding event, but Helen and I went and got matching tattoos. They are small and on the outside of our right heels, a dragonfly in two shades of blue. It was fun though Helen experienced a lot more pain than I did. I thought she was just being a bit of a wimp (she did often say some bone was broken and make me take her to the doctor’s when it was a mild sprain), but then on the way home she said her foot was burning and throbbing while I felt nothing. Now mine seems to be fading so maybe that high pitched sounding needle didn’t go deep enough? But even if it fades to look more like another varicose vein than a dragonfly, it was worth it. Perhaps one day Rose and I will do the same. I’d like a small bluebird on my left shoulder, one of those that looks in flight, as birds are meant to be.
I assume my IQ is somewhere between 105 and 161 and closer to the low end. But I’m not sure I put much faith in even the most valid (which means not one that wants to sell me something) IQ test. All those colored squares in weird sequences and when is the ability to problem solve tested? Surely that correlates with intelligence, although these days problem solving can get help from Ms. Google. When my iPad started showing the circled H on a grid with no map, I used her first suggestion—-power off and back on—it worked!
Often the most obvious and simplest answer is the best. I believe my mother lived by that rule and with only common sense, experience, and a good heart to help her. She knew her children were on loan and at some point had to go explore the world, whether that meant a new job in a neighboring town or traveling around the world. She treated it with sincere smiles, good wishes, and all the support she could gather.
Getting a tattoo may not be an indicator of intelligence but knowing how to say goodbye to your grown children should be. It’s one of those things mothers have been saying forever. It’s the way it’s supposed to be, and is still tough, even if the wave of a phone can show me in panoramic view how my encaustic pictures are already hung up and a text photo brings to life a first dinner, complete with Daisy posing in front of a small table and two chairs.
Fortunately, the answer as to how to say goodbye is simple.
Take care, my dear Helen, and know I’m here if you need me. I’m proud of you…..oh, and don’t forget that the next time you’re back in Kansas we should see if I can get my tattoo touched up. I’d like to have that day together all over again.