Tuesday, February 27, 2018
"Trust and Pixie Dust"
Tegan’s mother was forty-nine years, eleven months, and twenty-one days old.
It is uncommon to know precisely how old your parents are — or even how old you are yourself — but Tegan had a good reason for certainly. He had been constantly calculating his mother’s exact age since Christmas when his older brother Armanti had let him in on The Big Secret.
Tegan’s mom had grown up on the westernmost coast of Canada, in a small town on Vancouver Island. With the sea in front of her and the mountains at her back, his mother had been a girl in love with the natural world, as wild and free as the whales she could watch from the harbour. As a young woman, she left the shores and rough ridges of her home for the adventures of travel and had followed the wind all the way to Ontario, where she met the second love of her life -- Tegan’s father. They built a home by the bay with the escarpment behind them. It was a new beginning, but it whispered of her beginnings just enough to keep her always happy… and just enough to keep her always homesick.
Every year at Christmas, Tegan’s West Coast Grandparents would send a box of gifts and goodies all the way across the country by train. Sometimes it would arrive in the evening, and the whole family would go down to the station to pick it up; other times it would be suddenly waiting under the tree after school one day, as if by magic. On Christmas morning, Tegan’s family would pass out the gifts as they passed around the telephone, taking turns talking with the far-away relatives, and thanking them for their generosity.
This year, though, no box had arrived. Only a card, with the customary Christmas letter, was sent and delivered by the post office. When Tegan was handed the phone, he chatted about his life at school and thanked his grandparents for their card and letter, as if nothing at all was amiss.
If Tegan had been any younger, this break from tradition would have probably made him cry, but Tegan had grown up quite a lot over this past year. His brother had noticed it before anyone else. When once Tegan would have fought to get his way, he had become rather humble; when once he’d have lashed out in frustration, he had grown patient. He was developing into a very honourable young man.
It had been nearly midnight on Christmas when Tegan woke up with his brother’s flashlight in his eyes. Before he had time to say anything in protest, Armanti shone the beam on himself and held a finger to his lips, signaling for silence. Confused but intrigued, Tegan rubbed his eyes and nodded. He followed his brother into the hall and down the stairs to the kitchen. Their dad was already waiting at the table.
Tegan listened in awe as the other two men revealed the elaborate conspiracy they had been hatching over the last few months. In honour of their mother’s fiftieth birthday, all four of them would be flying to Vancouver Island for a three-week vacation! Though their mother had flown home once or twice since she had married, they’d never been able to afford the trip with everyone. It was a big dream, suddenly coming true.
“This is a huge surprise for mom,” whispered Armanti. “We’ve been keeping it secret for a while by ourselves, but we both believe that now we can trust you to keep it too.”
“You proved that today,” added his father, “when you acted so cool about not getting presents from out West. Now you know that they’re saving up so that they can give us a much bigger present in the new year -- three weeks of time with your mother’s whole family.”
When Tegan got back to school, he made a secret calendar that he used for counting down the days until his mother’s top-secret birthday trip. He was fairly bursting at the seams with excitement, but he never said a word about it when his mother was in the house. Tegan and Armanti spoke about it in hushed tones, even when they knew they were alone, and mostly they didn’t speak of it at all. Tegan was supremely careful because wanted to prove that he was as trustworthy as Armanti thought he was.
As the months of waiting turned into just weeks, Tegan thought he really might explode. He channeled his energy into writing letters to his mom that he would give her once the secret was out. In the letters, he listed all of the reasons that he thought she was awesome, and how much he trusted her, and how much he loved and honoured her. They were pretty mushy sounding letters, but moms love all that stuff.
Weeks turned to days, and days into mere hours. Her three boys had somehow managed to pack all the bags and load up the car without raising the alarm. When the morning finally came, they went out for birthday brunch to celebrate, and then they drove straight on to the airport instead of going home.
Their mother had cried great big tears of joy when she learned of the trip they were about to take. Her heart was an ocean of gratefulness, filled up by a mountain of love. Tegan and Armanti hugged her until sobbing became laughter. They were soaring on joyful wings, long before the plane had even left the ground.