Jessie and I drove down to Montreal for lunch today, to visit with my Mom (Jessie’s Grams) in her new apartment in a seniors’ residence. While the condo she and my Dad had lived in for more than 16 years is still on the market, she decided to go ahead and make the move this past fall. When Jessie found out that the condo was being sold and Grams was moving she cried for days. “But where will we . . . ?” There is that. As her move changes everything about us being in Montreal as a family. No more staying in the guest bedroom, no more quick afternoon jaunts to the movie theatre, no more Jessie & Daddy swims in the pool downstairs, no more Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter dinners—or at least not in the way we used to celebrate them. It will all be new and different, and Jessie doesn’t always do new and different too well.
But today, when she walked into the apartment, her eyes lit up, first at Grams, and then as she surveyed the room. While the apartment is probably one-eighth the size of the condo, all the important bits seem to be there: the art, including the John Little painting of Dorchester Square and the Molly Lamb parade; the bridge table; the colours and chintzes that, although new, are so typically my mother; the books and the mahogany desk; and the rich warm colours with bold accents that have always graced my mother’s choice of décor.
|Grams, Jessie & cousin Derek in Montreal|
Jessie turned to me and smiled, and then grinned and ran into Grams’ arms. “I am so relieved!” she said, “It is just like home!” Meaning that it was just like the condo, just like all that she was familiar with and that was important to her. And I realized that she was worried that a new place would mean a whole new Grams and a whole new relationship and a whole new way of being. But it is, indeed, like home, in all the ways that matter. And I am not so sure that that has anything to do with the paintings and the décor, or only to do with the paintings and the décor in as much as they reflect who my mother is, and that which she brings with her where ever she goes. And that, as my smart and loving daughter recognized, that inner kernel of selfhood and rooted grace drawn out to bloom through relationship, is what makes it familiar and “home.” Because she could still be with Grams in this place, and because Grams was still Grams, then it was still, much to her relief, home.