I heard nothing from them the seven years I’ve been gone. When I arrived, my mother was sitting on the porch enjoying her favorite soda. I sat in the car watching, remembering many days sitting by her, helping her finish her drink. Her laugh was infectious and often would cause everyone within earshot to at least smile.
I noticed how worn her face had become. The lines in her face, mapped her life, the hardships, the sadness and the cheerful times. Her hands had become frail with age, and her legs were webbed with varicose veins. I started up the walk, she hadn’t noticed me. I noticed how the yard was well kept and the flowers had been planted as they always had. I wondered how she had managed to do this in her condition; it was always I that helped her.
I was almost to the steps when she saw me. At first she hesitated. It was as if she couldn’t deem it was me. I could see the tears welling up in her eyes. I ran up the steps to her and hugged her small frame.
I asked about everything that happened since my departure. My brother was in prison again. Harold had died about a year and a half after I left. I felt my stomach sicken at the thought of my mother being alone at home for the past five years. I nearly cried at the thought.
We talked for hours; I hadn’t noticed that the sun started to set. We sat in silence for a few moments. I looked out into the garden. I asked how she faired with the gardening, if someone had helped her. She smiled, asking me if I remembered when I was a boy, when I use to tell her about gnomes in the garden. She always thought I had an active imagination. She told me she was sorry for not believing about the gnomes.
I smiled thinking she was teasing, but I could see she believed it to be true. I worried about her mental health, being alone all the time. Before I could utter a word she shushed me, placing a finger over her lips. I turned to look and memories of childhood rushed back, there they were, the gnomes I played with as a child, tending the garden. One looked at me. I could see he remembered me; he smiled and turned to pull weeds.
When I could speak again I found myself saying… “I am home.”