“Don’t you get scared?”
Yes and no, I think. Many things frighten me: a decline in my health, the loss of my spouse, something happening to one of my family members while I’m so far away from home. This is not what my mother is referring to, though. At 90, her view of the States is formed by what she sees on television: mass shootings, protesting, rioting, and a president, who according to her: “grows crazier every day.”
While I have some ability to cull through media hype, my mother is overwhelmed by what she sees. We are Canadians, and while we share a continent with our American friends, our countries could not be more different. Guns, for instance, are not something we argue about – we just don’t have them to the same extent as our American neighbours. The idea of travelling in a country where the number of guns is greater than people is somewhat disconcerting, but not reason enough to stay home.
“We have the right to bare arms,” my husband likes to joke. “I’m wearing short sleeves now.”
“No, Mom. It’s fine here, really.” I wish I could show her the beauty we have encountered, and demonstrate how friendly people have been along the way.
“You stick together? Lock your doors tight?”
“We do, Mom,” I reassure her, but don’t go on to explain that I have the same phobia at home. I watch way too many true crime dramas. If Ric pops into a store and leaves me alone in the car, I lock my doors. Doesn’t matter where I am.
She was like this was when our youngest son married a girl who also happens to be Muslim.
“This is how it starts, you know,” she warned me.
“How what starts, Mom?”
“Indoctrination. Next they’ll be recruiting him.”
“What?!” It shocked me that my mother could be so closed-minded, so obviously ignorant, and then with sorrow, I saw through her eyes what so many others see: I saw the root of Islamophobia – the irrationality of fear manipulated by power and press.
“You have that all wrong, Mom.” I might have been a bit harsh with her, but this was my son, her grandson, she was talking about, and I couldn’t believe that propaganda could overpower what she knew to be true of him.
“Fear is like a big, old dog asleep in the doorway. You just have to step over it and get on with your life,” I used to tell my children. Bottom line: I refuse to let fear dictate my life.
Every day, Ric and I are choosing to face the unknown, and so far, it has been incredible. There is so much to see, and learn, and experience, and yes, I will lock my doors, but I will not close myself off from this opportunity.
“Truthfully, I envy you,” Mom concedes. “It’s quite amazing what you’re doing.”
“It really is, Mom.”
And, yes, I’m scared at times, but a little bit of adrenaline is good for the soul, don’t you think?