Standing on a windswept cleft barren of vegetation and abundant with wind, an old woman shudders against a north Atlantic cold as she seeks to understand her son.The wind is a constant force ,the air thick with salt and cold. The woman’s son stands serenely oblivious to the biting cold and enraptured with beauty of the far off sea and mountain all about.
Two related, yet unknowing of the other. She well to do and with an arty bent, never one to care for the cold and the sparse. He a loner seeking extremes with more than a touch of disdain for the well to do. The mother had come to this cold far off place to see a son she had never known and not seen for many years.
Pulling her coat more tightly about her and with a shiver she states, “It’s cold out here and I want to go home.” No response arises from the son and she turns to leave in a mix of pain and anger
“Aye, it is cold and don’t we all want to go home.” He states loudly to over come the winds unending roar. She turns to look at a man she has never quite comprehended. Her mind recalls him as a babe and a montage of images from all too short visits from years past, yet here he stands long graying hair to his shoulders with a short-cropped beard leaning against a hiking staff in a land for from his birthplace. “Where have all the years gone?” She thinks mostly to herself.
At once she recovers and asks, “What do you mean, all wanting to go home, this is where you have chosen to call home. Had I not traveled all this way here, I would never have seen you again.”
He smiles at her lack of understanding and the irony of her wanting to see him now when it would have meant so much more to him had she striven to see him when he was young.
“What I mean is dear mom, that everyone on this stinking orb we call earth at some point in time feels the shiver of life slipping away and longs so terribly for that most perfect place where there is neither sickness or sorrow or wrongs.”
Reaching into his memory, the woman’s son remembers an old man laying in a nursing home bed oblivious to the world around him. This old man is mostly mumbling nonsense, yet one thing he emotes distinctly, “It’s cold and I want to go home.” The son recalls fondly this old man finally getting that wish many months later when his life thankfully expires.
“I had a little more immediate and literal meaning on my mind.” says the mother to her son, jolting him from his memories. “ I want to get back down this cold dreary mountain and get my things together and leave for my home in the States. It’s obvious we have nothing in common at this point of our lives and that you would rather see me go. At least walk me back to your house . “
“ I will if you will just wait a minute and listen please.” states the son as heturns away from the north Atlantic view he cherishes so. “ I understand you feel that I have never liked you and that my family has never grown to know you.” He says walking down the rocky path to close the distance between them. “But, how could I ever really know you? I mean a few days here and there, and you always making me feel that you were uncomfortable with my way of life and my style of living. That doesn’t promote warm relations and true understanding.”
“I’ve heard all of these things before, I can’t change the past and you won’t forget it, much less give me the benefit of the doubt.” She says with a flash of anger in her eyes that seems uncharacteristic of her age and belies the common heritage these two share with that old man in the nursing home.
Yet she understands her sons comment on life, she recalls her own mother’s recent death and her husband’s years before. Yes, she truly longs to go home because even in Hawaii, her home, she feels the coldness of this world. It is that very fact that has drawn her so far from home to seek out her son on the precipice of Scotland.
“I have made peace with the past ,” the son states, “regrets and all, what I have a hard time reconciling is our continual distance. It feels as if I make you uncomfortable in who I am or what you are reminded of by me. Anyway I will walk you down the path.” He moves beside her and begins to walk slowly with his head down.
In the woman’s eyes shows frustration and too many disappointments stretching through a life time. “ I have always felt you were the one who did not like me, my conservative political leanings, my personality, and whatever else. I have always felt the need to be on guard around you and your family.” She states obviously uncomfortable with the line of discussion, but hoping that this time the barrier between them not just give, but indeed come falling down.
“You know there are things about you that I do not like, many are from the past, and as I have said, those are no longer a factor. It has never bothered me that we do not see eye to eye on all issues, what does bother me is your need to change my beliefs. What I need to see from you is some genuine acceptance and involvement with my family.” He stops to look at her directly and motions for her to sit on a small stone bench in sharp bend in the path.
The cloud cover has broken to allow the afternoon sun to shine through lighting the grasses at this lower level and small turrets of water careening down the abraded mountainside. The mother sits, as she is somewhat tired from the earlier climb up and now the descent. The warm sun is a welcome respite from the chill farther up the path.
“What you said earlier about going home is true, we all long to be in a perfect world. You and I as Christians are going there, I just need to have some connection to you now in this world.” She says with tears in her eyes.
“Don’t you think I realize the priceless things I lost by not being with you as a child, do you not believe I have felt a failure for also missing out on my grandchildren when they were young?”
“ You know, how much I have wanted hear you say that you wanted a connection and hear you speak of your regrets.” The son interjects as he sits down beside his mother. “We have seen so many loved ones pass on, and my fear has always been that one of us would die before we ever got past the uncomfortableness that seems to separate us.”
The woman stands to continue on and motions for her son to follow, “I really am cold and need the warmth of a house. Thank you for coercing me up there with you, it is a beautiful place in it’s own right. “ As the son stands his mother embraces him tightly as if trying to erase all his hurts and disappointments. He lets loose of a lifetime of being on guard around her and cries uncontrollably, for those two time has lost all meaning.
Son and mother walk slowly hand in hand enjoying the sunshine, not just on the land, but also in their hearts.They arrive back at a small cottage placed on green fields near a small country road. The man’s wife opens the door to greet them as they arrive, “ I was getting worried about you two, it was beginning to look stormy up there.”
“For a while it was, “ the woman says with some irony, “but the sun came out and it was really very nice.” She seems to genuinely mean what she speaks.
Standing at a grave side the man reflects on these memories now almost two decades old. It seems strange to him to be back in the States after so long being gone. He reaches down and grabs a handful of warm moist soil and drops it on his mother’s casket,”It’s cold and I want go home,” he says with tears tracing down his face.
In minds his mind’s eye the man can envision so many souls whom have all been sad and cold and wanted something better so badly. “Welcome home, Mom, save a place for me and mine.”