My quads, hamstrings, and calves are tight as can be but still I have a remarkable flexibility that allows me to put my foot into my mouth. I’m talented like that.
I was dropping YaYa off at camp and doing my capture-the-moment (make that ALL the moments) thing. Chatting up everyone in the long line like only I can do. Behind us, a young teenager watched. Suddenly, I felt compelled to explain my obsession. “I guess you’re past the stage of letting your mom do this to you?” He just smiled.
The small talk continued. It was his 5th year of Camp K and he was entering into the leadership program.
“My older boy was in that program the 1st year we came here. He loved it.”
“Oh?” said a woman resembling a female version of the boy.
“They take a 3-day backpacking trip at the end of the week.”
“Where is he now?”
“Oh, well. Uh, he’s been attending school in Hawaii but he’ll be home for the summer. Then he goes into the Air Force.”
The woman proudly chimed in to say that the boy’s sister, who had previously been a camper, was now a camp counselor. The boy looked away briefly.
“In a few years, you’ll love that your mom brags about you. Maybe when you’re around 18 or so.”
“Do you live in the area?” the woman asked.
“Yes, and you?”
“I do. But he lives in Alaska with his dad.”
Turning to the boy, “Really? That must be cool.”
He smiled and turned away.
She explained, “His dad is a well-known journalist and was given an opportunity to work here for a year. That’s how they ended up here.”
Wheels began turning in my head. “Oh.” I was trying to compute. She lives HERE. They live in ALASKA. She is speaks highly of him. Either it wasn’t your typical marriage… or divorce… or she wasn’t the mother.
I braved the question.
“Are you his mother?”
“No,” she replied, “I’m a close family friend.”
[Silence and more churning.]
“Did she pass?”
She just nodded.
Feeling horrible for all of my foot-in-mouth commentary, I looked to the boy. “I’m sorry.” I offered. Then, nodding as if some sort of confirmatory understanding, I looked at YaYa. “Us too, only his dad.”
I felt bad having had assumed that the woman was his mother. They really did look a lot alike but also I think that YaYa would have provided a correction. I forget just how unique he is.
I’ve had similarly awkward conversations. I’m sure you weren’t the first to make such assumptions but I also think you could relate to him and his loss more than others.