Fulfilling Our Mom’s Dream to See the Solar Eclipse

If all goes according to plan, on April 8, our 75-year-old mother, Nancy, will be settled into a lawn chair in Waco, Texas — some 1,300 miles from her recliner in Las Vegas — and joining a great many other Americans as they put on solar eclipse glasses, tilt their heads up and try to make sense of what’s happening in the heavens.

None of this was a given. Fiercely independent and more than a little skeptical of hype, fads and feverish mass events, our mother is not what you’d call a joiner. Like many of her generation, she has seen a lot in life; she knows what it’s like to have high expectations and be let down. But she also knows the coming eclipse is neither trend nor fad. Planning to see it has united our family in a desire to participate in a mass event that is a wonder of the world.

Part of the drive to take our mother to Waco is the hard truth of time. Partial eclipses come and go, but the next awe-inspiring and captivating total eclipse will not be seen again in the contiguous United States until 2044. Our mother is in variable health and disabled. Absent good luck and medical advancements, odds are heavily stacked against her living to see another one.

Retirement for our mom came with familiar features — more time for her hobbies, rooting for her favorite teams and vacations that cater to disabled individuals. But this planned excursion is different. A cruise can bill itself as a “once-in-a-lifetime adventure” and then offer many dates on the calendar for the same adventure. No matter how many exhilarating experiences a person has collected in 75 years, this one will stand apart.

Her body may be broken, but our mother is still the experience-seeker she has always been. She left home at 18 for a college a thousand miles away, traveled alone to the Middle East and never met a boat, big or small, she didn’t love.

These days, our mom can barely walk. She moves around via a scooter. Her back is so damaged from osteoporosis and an unsuccessful surgery that she cannot sleep, stand or sit without pain. Still, she remains the same stubborn and determined person she has always been. Years ago, this meant going to law school at the age of 40, traveling the world as a divorced single woman and starting her own business just shy of her 50th birthday. Now it means bristling when we mentioned that we are coming from our homes in Massachusetts and California to “take” her to see the eclipse.

Back to top button