The Promises We Keep

I overheard the following as I was walking cross town yesterday: If you will be good just this once,  I’ll never ask you to come anywhere with me again. 

The tone was more angry and exasperated than pleading. And I began to think about those bargains we drive with recalcitrant children, bargins that are impossible to keep.  But what would happen if we did? 

Here’s what my imagination did with that as I continued my walk:

If you will be good, 

Just this once, 

I’ll never ask you to come 

Anywhere with me again. 

And you were. 

We made it through that awful ordeal

Of settling your mother’s estate. 

So I kept my promise. 

Grandma would love to see you, 

I’d say and you’d look at me 

With a challenge in your eye, 

“Are you asking me to go with you?”

No, I’d sigh, but she would love you see you. 

“I’ll pass.” And I’d call the sitter.

As you got older,  I’d go to your games, concerts,  and shows. 

“Don’t ask me to go home with you.” 

You challenged, and so win or lose,  

You’d catch a ride with someone else. 

I took to watching from the bleachers

And sneaking out. Perhaps,

You never knew I was there. 

And when your grandmother died, 

You walked to the church.

Your aunt drove you to the burial

And then back home 

Where you retreated to your room.  

Still every morning I made your breakfast and lunch,  

But I never drove you to school. 

Every evening you’d grumble over dinner and glare at me and Joey. 

As soon as you could,  you bought your own car, 

But you never offered me a ride

And drove yourself to college, never to return. 

Joey and I would take road trips 

To see every one of your shows. 

Til your brother went off on his own road too.

Then it was just me.  

Following your career,  

Calling every week for a few minutes 

Of awkward small talk and strained silence

Only to find out from the tabloids

That you were engaged. 

I was relieved to get an invitation, 

But you did not ask me to walk you down the aisle. 

You did that yourself.

And when you won that award, 

I was so proud of all  you accomplished

And you thanked everyone except me,

Including Joey and your mother in heaven. 

Now, here I am, alone, in this hospice room. 

Would it be breaking my promise

To ask you to come see me

One last time?

I’m afraid it would. 

“The promises we keep define us,”

You said all those years ago. 

So young,  so headstrong, and so prescient. 

You fought against me defining you, 

And in the end,  you defined me. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s