You never forget your other mom or the Wild Goose Chases.
Many of us had the other mother in our lives. Maybe she was the neighborhood mom, team mom, or your favorite teacher. My other mother was all of those things. I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately. It’s not unusual for memories of her to pop into my head at random moments. She got on my last nerve. Oh, how I adored her! Sometimes, I can hear her nagging about the bangs on my forehead, covering up all my beauty. She had an opinion about everything. That made for many disagreements. You see, I too, have a lot of opinions. Neither of us were ever afraid to express them, especially during my teenage years. There were days I didn’t want to speak to her. I think there were days I swore I’d never speak to her again. There were days when she beat me to it and didn’t talk to me at all. Those days became crucial evidence in proving how much she loved me. No matter what, I knew she loved me and the feeling was mutual.
That’s how I know I’ll make it through the teenage years with my own children.
It’s normal to fight with your parents and your
other mother. Looking back, I can imagine exactly what Jessie and I put Sue through. If she drove us crazy, I’m guessing we did at least twice that to her. No matter how many memories I can recall of moments I’d rather forget, there are exponentially more memories I can recall that I never want to forget. Thank you for that, Sue.
Susan (Sue) Watson, was my friend, mentor, and other mother.
My own mother met Sue when I was just two-years-old. Sue’s daughter and only child, Jessie, was quickly forced upon me. Don’t tell her I said that. She remembers it that I was forced upon her. It’s been almost forty years since our awkward union and subsequent unbreakable bond. Sue became my other mother and Jessie became my sister. Jessie didn’t invite me to her birthday party when she was four or five. She set my hair on fire around the same age. I shoved her into the sofa-bed (because SHE ASKED ME TO!) and then I thought
she was we were going to die. I did think she was going to die. That was kind of scary. At the same time, I figured my mother or hers would have to kill me for following through with that really dumb idea that was ALL JESSIE! In High School we fought over two boys! We also shared a car during High School so you can imagine those fights! We did bond over hating Sue! We were pretty much in agreement about that.
These are some of my best Sue memories.
- When I was four-years-old, I told my mother about a strange dream I had. I dreamed about a man who wanted me to go to him. Specifically, he wanted me to take my mother to him. He told me she was lost. He told me I shouldn’t lie. He told me we would be safe in his grace. I thought he lived in a cave and that “his grace” was a woman who worked for him. My mother was really freaked out about that dream. She called Sue. It was the middle of the night but Sue came rushing over. She told my mother all about God.
- She used to bring me oranges. I know that doesn’t seem so special, but trust me, it was! Every time she came to my house, she would bring oranges just for me. Looking back, I understand the magic of those oranges. She made me feel special, all the time. It meant that she went out of her way, in some small way, just for me. It meant she was thinking about me. It meant that I could count on her. I could always count on those oranges.
- When I was afraid to swim in the Ocean like resident fish, Jessie, I spent hours on the beach just wading in the waves, OF SEAWEED! Instead of shaving my head, which was the only reasonable solution after the seaweed had been entangled into my hair to the point where you could no longer tell the difference between the hair and the seaweed; Sue spent hours and hours fingering and combing through my hair to save my head of curls.
- She was my third grade Teacher. Aside from those times she made me wear the dunce cap, there was something very special about this part of our relationship. Sue was a Teacher, but she also worked a part-time job delivering pizzas. That’s what she had to do to make ends meet as a single mother. I think she used most of that pizza money that year to pay my tuition to the Private School Jessie attended and she worked as a Teacher. She gave me my love of reading. She challenged me academically and showed me I was smart.
- She paid for me to attend gymnastics classes. It’s nice that she spent money, but the real gift was her desire to expose me to new interests. She gave me the chance to discover what things I might be good at doing. She gave me the confidence to try new things. I was good, by the way!
- Sue introduced me to Encyclopedias.
- Sue used to take me to a fabulous place, Watsons, to have Root Beer floats while Jessie practiced piano nearby.
- Sue played Scrabble with me for years. She gave me a passion for dictionaries!
- The day I got my driver’s permit, I tried to make a very difficult parking move and hit the car parked next to me. I got out of the car. I panicked a bit. I went into the store, which is why I was parking in the first place. Sue exchanged insurance information with the owner of the other car. When I came out of the store, I hopped into the passenger’s seat. Sue looked over at me and said, “what are you doing?!” Did she expect me to drive? She did! It was no big deal. Accidents happen, she said! She was not mad. I was not in trouble. She got me laughing. I’ve never had an at-fault accident again!
- Through the good times and the bad ones, Sue was a part of the foundation of my life, back then and now.
Then one day, I got the call from my other sister. Sue was gone.
It was a hard time in my life. I couldn’t go to the service. I KNEW Jessie would not hold that against me. She understood, although we were both so heartbroken. Sue was going to be cremated. So I asked Jessie for an unimaginable favor. It was something only she would understand. I needed it to be done. It would give me peace in the years to come. I asked Jessie to send me photos of Sue’s deceased body before it was cremated. I didn’t know if she could do it. I knew she would make it happen though. And she did. Jessie had her husband take those photos and send them to me. It was awful to see Sue in the condition she was after taking her final breath. I hated seeing her like that. I needed to see her like that. I needed to remember that she suffered and that her final breath gave her freedom from that suffering. I needed to remember that in the absence of her health, she had not been herself in many years. I needed to look at those pictures when I missed her most. I still do.
Sue lives on through her Legacy of Wild Goose Chases.
When Jessie and I were little, Sue would frequently and spontaneously shuffle us into the car; destination unknown! Those were the Wild Goose Chases. The definition of Wild Goose Chases include the idea that they are “fruitless” searches. Our Wild Goose Chases were NEVER fruitless. Sue would drive around, dropping hints, tricking us, and eventually surprising us with a surprise treat at a favorite stop. All we knew when we got into that car is that we were on a Wild Goose Chase. Aside from sharing the loved tradition with my own children, I remember our Wild Goose Chases in the most difficult moments of my life. When the road I’m on seems to be wrong or if I begin to think I’m lost, I’m reminded that my destination will bring me joy, even when that destination is unknown. I’ve spent a lot of my life living through unexpected moments. Thanks to Sue, I am able to embrace the unknown and hold onto hope. My Life continues to be full of Wild Goose Chases. I try to enjoy them and think of her often. I know there will be something wonderful to come and I am fearless because of it!
It’s been a rough weekend. I think it’s time to take my kids on a Wild Goose Chase. Maybe you’ll do the same?
By: Alicia Gonzalez