I believe in signs. I believe that when you are open and receptive to guidance, the Universe sends you signals. Don’t get me wrong, I am not some New Age Shirley MacLaine, crystal loving woman (although to each their own), but I firmly believe in the Laws of Attraction.
Sometimes things happen and you look back and think, “You can’t make this shit up!” My mom’s memorial/ash scattering was such an experience. This month marks the anniversary of both her birthday and her passing. Perhaps some day I’ll write more about my relationship with my mom, but suffice it to say it was complicated. She succumbed to a valiant fight with breast cancer. She bravely fought and won the first round, but surrendered to the second so dementia wouldn’t rob her of her self. That’s a story for another day.
A year after she passed, on her birthday, I arranged to meet her sisters in her beloved North Carolina mountains to scatter her ashes. I had just filed for divorce, my kids were super busy, so I traveled alone. I reunited with my aunts and cousins, who are very religious people living a quiet life in a small town. I sprang for dinner that night and the tab for 15 or so kids and adults was less than $200. They were awed by my generosity. I was awed by the low cost of living!
The next day we went into a national park and snuck into a closed area. I was impressed by my religious kin’s law-breaking ways! My uncle performed a lovely brief service, I had a slideshow of photos. We all shared memories of my mom and then we got down to the business of scooping ashes. One aunt retreated from this because it creeped her out. I had purchased some kitchen scoops thankfully, and there are now a bunch of well-fertilized azaleas up in the mountains.
It was simple, meaningful and I appreciated the love and acceptance only a family can provide at these times. My cousins are hilarious. As we got in the car, one gently asks how I was feeling. When I said I was fine, so the other immediately asks if we can 1) stop at a bathroom and 2) could we stop at the outlet mall on the way back to town. I laughed and said that sounded great and surely my mom would approve.
We stopped at one of the park’s cultural centers for the bathroom break. I moved like lightening and was done first. As I emerged from the bathroom, I saw two men, cowboys, dismounting from their horses for a bathroom break. Never having met a stranger, I walked up and began chatting with them. I rode as a teenager and had spent a decade as a horse show mom to my daughter. Horses were the passion always shared between me, my mom and my daughter. My mom and I spent countless hours watching Taz ride.
I told the cowboy a bit about my equestrian history. He immediately said, “Ride my horse!” What?! Is he nuts? The next thing you know, my purse is hanging from the hitching post, I’m up on the horse and headed down the trail with the other cowboy. One aunt emerges from the restroom to hear me hollering at her to grab my purse and I’ll be back shortly.
I trot and gallop a couple of miles down the trail with the other cowboy. We chat about the horses, why they were here and other small talk. Then my realistic brain gently says, “Excuse me, Maggie. You are on a strange horse with no helmet with a strange man. Perhaps it’s time too turn around?”
We return with my cousin snapping photos of my return like a paparazzi. As I get off, I hug the cowboy who had given me his horse. I tell him with tears in my eyes that he has no idea how much this meant to me. Then I tell him why we were in the mountains that day and that his gift to me was a sign from my mother that she is happy and sending me love and happy thoughts.
So yes, I believe in signs. They happen to me all the time and they damn sure aren’t coincidences. Finding my new house was full of signs, so perhaps I’ll tell you about that one day.
In the meantime, instead of a song today (because I wasn’t coming up with anything that tickled my fancy), here is a great podcast from This American Life on the same theme. Enjoy.