"I enrolled you in a boarding school." When I think back to the day I heard my mother say those words, I have so many so many emotions. I had no idea that she was even considering this and the fact that she just enrolled me without even discussing it with me made me furious.
My father passed away when I was a baby, so it has always been just me and my mom. We were very close. We did everything together. Every Saturday we sat down and made a menu of what we were going to cook that week. Then we went grocery shopping together and bought all of the ingredients. We spent so much time preparing meals and baking. We always went out to lunch after church on Sunday and almost every Friday night we would pig out on some of our baked goods and watch a movie. Then when I was 15, she started dating Ralph. Around that same time she got a huge promotion at work and started having to work longer hours. She started going out to dinner with Ralph on Friday nights. and a lot of evening I prepared the dinner by myself because she was working late. I guess things were very hectic for her with dating, demands at work and a teenage daughter.
She told me that she had always wished she could afford to send me to this very prestige school and now with her job promotion she could actually afford it. She seemed so excited for me. But I felt in my heart that she just wanted me out of her way so she could do more fun things with Ralf and focus more on her career. My feelings were so hurt and I felt like she wasn't even listening to me when I kept trying to tell her I didn't want to go. I couldn't believe that she enrolled me and was going to send me and that I didn't have any say so on the subject, before I knew it I was packing my bags. I can remember crying as I put my clothes and Patch, my favorite stuffed bear into a suitcase. I remember her coming into my room all cheerful and so excited when I was feeling so upset.
It was a two hour drive to the campus and all the way there, she kept telling me how this was going to be so good for me. "This school will prepare you for college. They have the highest academic scores in all of the state. They will work with you individually and find out your strengths, so that you get on a perfect career path."
She kept rambling on and on while I sat quietly, thinking how can she do this to me. I didn't have a lot of good friends but I did have some friends that I didn't even get to say good bye to. I worried that the kids at this school might be a bunch of rich girl's and I might not fit in at all. When I told my concerns to my mom, she said, "Oh honey, you are going to fit in just fine. When I enrolled you they asked me a lot of questions about you so that they could match you up with the perfect roommate. I think you are going to love it and be so happy at this school." I was thinking that its more like you are going to love having me out of your hair, so that you have more time for Ralph.
We pulled up to the building and I was overwhelmed with how huge the place was. I was so nervous. My mom helped me unpack in my dorm and before my roommate even arrived, my mom left because she had a big meeting to get to. I sat on the bed wiping tears off my face feeling abandoned and frightened.
That was 48 years ago. My mother passed away last week. I'm sitting on her bedroom floor reading from her journal. As I read what she wrote on the day that she dropped me off at the boarding school, I cant stop crying and I feel so much love for her. She wrote, "After I dropped Jane off at the school, I cried all the way back to the office. I looked in my rear view mirror and I had mascara smeared all over my face. I couldn't go into that meeting. Not because of the way I looked but because of the way I felt. I missed my sweet little girl so much already. I took this promotion so that I could afford to send her there and now I don't know how I am going to go on without her by my side. I hate my job and this promotion is only going to make it more stressful. I know it is going to be worth it because now Jane is going to have the very best education. This school is known for having experts who are trained to find their students best quality's and strengths. Then they get them on the right path. My little girl is the most important thing in the world to me and I want the best life possible for her. I don't want her to have to dread going to work everyday. I hope that they help her to find a career that is perfect for her and that she never has to dread going to work."
As I sit here on her bedroom floor reading this, my heart is filled with so much love for my mother. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. All these years I really thought the reason she sent me there was to get me out of her hair, so that she could have more time for her personal life. It turns out she wasn't being selfish at all, she was being completely selfless.
The boarding school turned out to be awesome. My roommates name was Zhe, she was from China. We became great friends and still are. The school offered classes in Mandarin, which I learned to speak fluently with the help of my new best friend. I got my first job as a translator for court cases and documents. I loved my job. I met my husband at work, he was a just starting out as a lawyer. The two of us hit it off right away. Now he is an advocate for the Asian community and I am his translator. We have 2 awesome kids. I sent both of my children to that same boarding school. I cant imagine what my life would be like if my mom hadn't done what she did.
I'm so happy that my mother lived long enough to see that her hard work to send me to that school had paid off. She was able to see that I am having a great life and a great career because of her and I never ever dread going to work. The last thing I said to her before she passed away was "Wo ai ni." which is I love you in Mandarin. I thought those were the very best last words but now I wish my last words would have been, xiexie which means thank you.