Happy Mother's Day. 5.14.06
"What is it? I'm trying to rest."
"You have a phone call waiting for you."
I inwardly groaned. The last thing I needed was a phone call. Shifting uncomfortably in the hospital bed, I impatiently waved the nurse away.
"Tell whoever it is I don't want to talk."
The nurse bit her lips, hesitantly explaining, "I did inform her of your illness, sir, but this only made the talk even more urgent-"
"Fine, fine!" I interrupted, snatching the phone. The nurse let out a frightened squeak and scurried out the room.
"Who is it?" I nearly snapped, irritated at the rude awakening. From the line came silence, a slight cough, the rustling of blankets and then a frail, tiny voice.
"Ash? Is that you?"
"Mom?" I gasped in a state of shock, immediately feeling guilty for the earlier outburst. She must've heard everything. "Why did you call? It's late for you there, isn't it?" Standard Kanto time would make it night by now.
"Well, I heard you were sent to a hospital, so I got worried, naturally..." She laughed gently, before commenting softly, "I had hoped you wouldn't mind, but if you're too bothered right now, I can hang u-"
"No," I quickly rushed in, "It's okay. We can talk if you want."
There was a brief moment of uncomfortable silence, engulfing even the static of the line. It reminded me of the time I first got angry at my mom and refused to speak to her for a day. At such young age I probably couldn't have noticed, but for the longest time, I neglected the pain and hurt wedged deep in my mother's eyes.
Of all times, why was I remembering this now?
"How are you?" she suddenly broke the unspoken promise of silence, disrupting my nostalgic visit.
"I'm fine, thanks, mom," I said with a smile.
"Is everything alright there?"
"I'm fine," I reiterated, "just got a bit of an accident earlier. But the nurses and doctors say I should be out in a few weeks, so it should be okay." I sensed her hesitation when I uttered 'few weeks.' "Of course, I can always be let out earlier if I asked," I hastily added in, perhaps to unknowingly induce a tone of optimism.
"Take your time and do things your own way. How did you wind up in the hospital, anyway? You're feeling okay, right?" She sounded concerned and a bit frightened. I felt guilty again, for causing such unintentional feelings.
"It was nothing, mom. I was helping out a few Charizard tamers the other day and one of them accidentally scorched my left arm. I lost my footing and fell, damaging the same arm. The doctor told me it was only a minor third-degree burn. That Charizard was pretty strong, like my old one," I tried laughing for old time's sake, but found it difficult due to the lump forming in my throat. It was foolish trying to cling on to my feeble corporeal manifestation of what was once alive.
"I see," she said quietly, probably thinking the same thing as me, "I'm sorry I didn't find out about this sooner. I-"
"Don't blame yourself, mom," I cut her off, "I mean, it's really nothing. I'm perfectly alright. Don't worry." Why was it that I always took risks when I knew they would inevitably wind up wounding my mother? I mentally sighed. I'll make it up to her when I get back.
"How is the project coming along?" she inquired. I perked up almost immediately.
"It's coming along perfectly," I enthusiastically told her, elated at the topic chance. "Majority of the residents in Orre didn't mind at all and nearly all of them were willing to participate. We're thinking about setting up the traditional gyms in each towns. For the fundings a lot of them are willing to donate. Orre wants an organized system just as much as we do. It's not going to be easy convincing some people already in power, though, but we're doing all we can." I stopped, taking a deep breath.
"Wow," my mom laughed, "you've come a long way, haven't you?" I sheepishly grinned.
"Enough about me, though. How are things in Pallet? I haven't been there in a long time. Gary took over Professor Oak, right?"
"Yes. We moved the funeral a day before Sunday, because, well, it was Misty's birthday and people didn't want it to be on the same day..."
"Oh, shoot," I muttered, remembering her 28th birthday. "Can you tell Misty Happy Birthday for me? It's late there, so maybe next time. I can't wait to go back to Pallet and see you all again." I smiled broadly at the prospect.
"When are you planning on coming home?" she asked softly. I failed to catch the hint of sadness in her voice.
"Well, considering my position right now..." I sighed, staring at all the medical equipments. Orre had hospitals, now. Imagine! "It's going to be a while. I have to patch things up and as of right now, Orre needs my help, so maybe in a few months?"
She paused again.
"That'll be splendid, Ash. I can't wait to see my little boy all grown u-"
"Mom," I groaned, exasperated. She only laughed.
"Alright, I won't do that again." I vaguely felt her smile's presence, although we were many miles away from each other.
"I have to go now, Ash. It's late, and I'm...I'm a bit tired." I frowned; she sounded weak and drowsy. Perhaps I had kept her too long?
"Go to sleep, mom. It's late there, isn't it?"
"I'm sorry we couldn't talk longer," she apologized. "Good night, Ash," she bid me farewell in her soft, weary tone.
"Good night, mom."
One final pause.
"I love you."
I had to smile at that line, knowing she never neglected to tell me after every phone call, every letter, and every day of my life. I felt happy and sad all at once, knowing I could never give back the same kind of love she had given me. I'll make it up to her when I get back.
"I love you, too."
I didn't learn my mom had died on that very day until three months later when I finally returned to Pallet Town.
Even then it was too late.