Deborah Gilson and Frances Chapter, Deborah’s Beloved Mother, 1984

My Late Mother’s Shoes ~ I Had No Understanding of Her Agony Until Saying Good-Bye to My Son

It took 35 years to stand in my late mother’s shoes and feel an ounce of the agony she felt when I left home as an 18 year old. In 1978 I left Redding, California and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to be with my first love. I was delirious with excitement beginning life as an adult. Freedom and intoxicating love were only a few hours’ airplane ride away and nothing in the world could stop me.

Debbie and John Murray, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1978

While my mother tried holding back her tears, I hugged the woman who’d been my pillar of God-like strength. My teen friends, brother and step-father stood by until it was their turn for a hug.

Now, as a 53 year old woman, I returned to the Redding Municipal Airport, which began my adult life’s journey so long ago. I took Spencer, my 15-year-old son, to this same airport yesterday for his first return flight to the Bay Area ~ away from me. All was well in my head and heart until he stood tall at the boarding gate. With his backpack slung over one shoulder, he leaned over me and in his deep voice said, “Bye, Mom. I’ll text when I land.”

Spencer and Deborah Gilson

I thought my knees would buckle leaving me in a heap on the airport floor. Through my tears, I said, “I love you, Spencer” and then quickly made my way against the five bustling travelers waiting behind us. I pulled myself together to watch as he went through security. After gathering his belongings, he saw me through the window and came over.

He texted a funny message on his cell phone and held it to the window for me to read. We passed the time this way until his row was called. I blew him a kiss and he rounded the corner. My tears began again and then, his head popped out from around the corner with a playful wave! I put my hand to my heart and then, to my lips blowing him another kiss until he was out of sight.

I walked onto the tarmac to watch Spencer board the United Airways puddle-jumper and gently waved when he glanced over his shoulder knowing I’d be there. Once the tiny plane shot into the air, I jumped up and down waving so he could see how very much I love him.

I don’t understand why, however, 35 years of time slipped through my fingers in spite of the death grip I held. The pain I naturally caused my mother is happening to me now. Is it karma or just plain life? Spencer’s growing into a fine young man and in three short years he’ll be heading off to a university.

Spencer Gilson

It’s now MY duty to begin letting go so he, too, may experience freedom, life and love. In returning to Redding, California, I’m learning a different type of life as a single, middle-aged woman. Wearing my heart on my sleeve, instead of my late mother’s shoes, I’m hopeful for another golden opportunity at intoxicating love, to heal the agony in my heart. ♥

Love, True Love, Today