“Where are you mum?”
This new day held so much promise as the May sun slanted through the bus window, one more stop and I would be home. I knew where Roger was. He was waiting for me. Stop the presses!
“I’m almost there.”
I rushed to the apartment and there he was waiting with his friend.
“Mum, I have a surprise. Don’t look, close your eyes. I’ll tell you when!”
It was Mothers Day, and my gift was in front of me smiling. His long black hair tied back in a ponytail showed his brown eyes framed in a sun-tanned face with an excess of shining teeth. He’d put on a few pounds and was wearing his best jeans and buttoned shirt. I could see the effort he put into his appearance and my heart melted.
He shooed me into the bedroom to wait for the unveiling. I heard the table scrape across the parquet floor. What could it be? I felt like a child at Christmas, but this was my child, now a grown lad of 28 preparing the surprise.
“You can come in now. Open your eyes.” His voice overflowed with excitement.
Roger was in the comfy seat with an expectant Cheshire grin on his face. The afternoon sun backlit the living room and there on the floor was the rug. This wasn’t any old rug; it was a magic carpet.
I whooped and cried as I threw myself onto its soft pile, crisscrossed with a harlequin pattern of sea blue and ocean foam grey.
“Roger it’s the beautiful rug I saw hanging at the Home Show!”
He laughed and joined me on the floor. I lay on my back and flung my arms ups.
“Do you like it mum?”
“Do I like it, Roger it’s the most beautiful thing I ever saw.”
He hugged me and handed me a card,
“Open it mum.”
With an Oscar flourish I tore open the envelope. The card, pink with glittery butterflies and flowers was emblazoned with, “A Mum Grows More Precious as Time Goes By!”
Inside in Rogers’s strong childlike script he wrote:
“Mum, thank you so much for being there for me through my ups and downs. I would not still be here if not for you. I hope you like your gift and smile everyday when you see it,
I Love You, Roger xxx”
We hugged and I cried and we laughed as the sun warmed us.
I smile every day when I walk into the living room and see the rug. I smile and think of Roger. I cry too.
My heart swells thinking back to the time a month earlier when I saw Roger working at the rug booth in the Better Living Centre. He was so excited to invite me to the show, part of the Canada Blooms event. Lucy and I found the stall amid the clamour of the crowds and there I saw him. He was dressed smartly in a blue and red check shirt and dark pants. He radiated happiness. The booth was busy when I arrived and he said,
“Mum, take a look, what carpet do you like?”
I loved looking through them all, but I kept coming back to the blue and grey one. It reminded me of the Big Island of Hawaii where we once lived. It had such a vivid ocean blue colour cut with grey and a floating seaweed pattern weaved in and out.
“I like this one Roger.”
He agreed it was one of his favourite too. He was a charismatic salesman and told me all the dimensions, animated and engaged. I was so proud of him.
“In my dreams Roger, this is the one.”
A day like this might seem normal for some, but for us, it was transcendent. This was a miracle. The winter was thawing, and I could breathe again. This was his first job post rehab. He was in recovery.
Only 5 months earlier I had picked Roger up from downtown, destitute and scared; his disease of opioids addiction had taken him down. It was freezing rain that November morning and he had spent the night on the street pan handling in the Entertainment district. He told me later that a well-dressed man leaving a club saw him shivering on the sidewalk stoop and sat down beside him. They talked and the man reached into his pocket and gave him $10 saying
“Watch yourself brother.”
That stranger saved Roger’s life; the $10 allowed him to pay for a seat in a 24-hour Internet Café on Yonge Street. From there he logged on to a computer and messaged me.
“Mum, come get me.” It was a cry for help.
“Where are you Roger?”
Those dark days seemed so far behind us as we sat on the rug. A Mother’s day gift with such beautiful intention and a message of hope,
“Smile everyday when you see it Mum.”
I promise I will keep smiling through my tears. Roger would want that. There’s a saying I saw in Roger’s Narcotics Anonymous book,
“As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear us apart, all will be well.”
The ties that bind Roger and I together are as tight as the threads in our magic carpet and they reach to heaven.