Earlier this week my Mom came home from New York City to be my Grandpa in his final days, and it's the first time I've seen her in since I was a little kid.
I was over at my grandparents when she arrived, and I was snuggling with my Grandpa on the couch listening to him talk about his days in Vietnam when she just walked into the room, I didn't even hear her pull into the driveway. It turned out she parked in the street, later on I found out why.
She just walked into the den and I yelled Mom! and got up and hugged her, and held her tight for a while. When I let go she had tears in her eye and she and Grandpa just looked at each other without saying a word.
Oh Daddy...was all she could say. My Grandpa slowly got up and they hugged, and my Grandma came in a motioned for me to follow her. Let them have some time sweetheart, she told me, just let them talk.
I went with her to the kitchen where she told me that my Mom wanted to take me to dinner, that she just needed some time to be with me and talk things over, which made me even more nervous.
She poured me a cup of coffee, and then said, You (my last name) men and your black coffee, I sweat it's in your genes! We both laughed at that but she barely contained her tears.
Oh Samuel, I have my family back...I never thought this would happen.
She had me in tears, and all I could do was hug her.
She was so right, we were together again, and soon one of us would be missing.
I don't know how long my Mom and Grandpa were in the den but my stomach reminded me it was time to eat when she came in the kitchen and asked me if I wanted to go get a bite to eat with her.
It was like asking me if I wanted to play catch.
We went to the same sports bar Aunt Carol and Jake had invited us to just a few short days ago, and while I sipped on my Coke my Mom drank a beer like it was water, and she apologized to me saying it had been a rough day. She didn't have to say that, I knew it already.
She told me about New York City, how alive and vibrant it was. How she went a few times a week to a sports bar just like this one, how there was so much to do. She filled me in on her career, and how much she had achieved.
I told her about my life, about baseball and Scouts, how I had taken over my father's old bedroom and made it mine.
Then I asked her if she was dating anyone...it took her a while to answer such a simple question.
No Sam, I just haven't found the right one.
Dad was the right one wasn't he?, I said.
Why the fuck did I have to say that? Wish I could rewind and delete that last comment.
You're right Sam...he was the right one. But sometimes it's not meant to be.
What about you?
Me?, I asked, shocked by her simple question. Oh fuck, what do I say now?
Yeah, I have a...
I couldn't say it. I couldn't get "boyfriend" out of my mouth.
Our food arriving saved me, and while I worked on my bacon cheeseburger and fries, my Mom attacked her chicken Caesar salad, washed down with another beer.
You're so much like your father Sam, my oh my he always had this ravenous appetite! Him and his brothers could empty a fridge in a minutes!
We both laughed, and then for some reason I don't think I'll ever understand I said, I'm a lot like Dad...I'm gay like him too...
It was as if we were surrounded in silence, and we just looked at each other, and then she told me she wasn't surprised. Then she asked me if I had told my Dad and I said no.
She grabbed my hand and pulled it to her and told me that I needed to tell my Dad, that he would understand. It runs in our family, Sam, it really does.
Damn. Fucking fucking damn. I just told my secret to a woman I haven't seen in years without first telling my Dad, who I talk to everyday! Oh fuck!
But she wasn't done.
You father and I have always kept in touch, it was hard after you were born and we had to be sneaky, but we always stayed in touch. It wasn't my decision to give you up Sam, don't ever think that. Please don't ever think that!
I don't, I understand Mom...
I wanted to marry your father Sam, I was going to wait until he was old enough but I couldn't make he what he wasn't...and you can't either. You can't be something you're not.
She was in tears and I got up and hugged her for a moment, and when I sat down I told her I'm okay with her giving me up, that things turned out okay.
Sam, he told me slowly, I have always feared this day, the day I'd have to tell you all this stuff. You made things easy for me...your Grandma did a great job with you...
The waitress interrupted us, asking if we wanted dessert...again it was like asking me if I wanted to play catch.
I pulled out my phone and found a picture of Matthew and showed it to my Mom.
This is my boyfriend, we've been together for a few months now.
He's beautiful Sam! You know your father...
I cut her off... he had a boyfriend when he was my age, Uncle Aaron's still with Dad. He told me they were old friends that became room mates!
Did Grandma tell you that?, she asked.
No...I...found his diary...found out a lot of things.
She put her head down, and without looking at me said, let him tell you about what happened back then, it was a hard time for your father Sam, understand that, it was so hard for him.
I know Mom was all I could say.
Damn, how much I knew that I wish could be thrown away from my memory, like emptying the trash can.
Too late for that now.
After demolishing our desserts, we sat on a bench outside the sports bar, our arms around each other, an experience I so longed to happen. We couldn't say anything for a while, and then she told me something that made me think about what she had gone through all this time.
Sam...I parked in the street because I didn't think I'd be able to face you, and you made this so much better than I thought it would be!
Wow. I couldn't answer that. All I could do is smile!
There was a sports bar employee outside smoking and when he was done I asked him if he would take a few pictures of me and my Mom with my phone?
The best one is now the background picture on my computer.
Things happen for a reason, don't they?