Chase went away for college. He left all his family, including his mother and dad and sister back in Cleveland to go to university in Columbus.
While he was gone, Chase never heard from his mother. He only saw her for a few hours on Christmas when he drove back to Cleveland to spend the holiday with the rest of his family. For the holiday, all she ever asked was how he was doing in college. Chase always gave a polite but abrupt answer, knowing she only asked so it would seem like she cared.
In his time away at college, his father visited. His father had taken him to tour various schools. He helped Chase apply for admissions and the scholarship he received. He helped Chase pack up the truck to move all his things back and forth in the four years he was away studying. He visited Chase on a few holidays. He drove over two hours each way to visit Chase on his birthday. He promised to match Chase’s scholarship so long as he maintained it. He sent his son a few bucks here and there, knowing most college kids are poor.
Chase’s mother and father split when he was a kid. But they both still lived in the same suburb of Cleveland.
When Chase graduated college, his mother wasn’t invited to the celebration.
Her exclusion made her sad.
So she sent Chase a card congratulating him on his achievement.
Shortly after graduating, Chase had moved to Columbus to accept a job.
By his mother’s account, it must have been about a year since Chase graduated, then moved. It felt like a year but she couldn’t be sure because she didn’t know the exact month of his graduation or when he moved.
All she knew was it felt like a while and she felt downhearted sometimes, knowing her son had moved on without her. He’d left her completely behind – forgotten – never to call or write in all the time he’d been gone.
She was shopping at the flea market one day. She saw a shirt on a table that read “Proudest Mom on This Earth.”
She bought the shirt. On the way home she stopped to buy a card that read, “Thinking of you.”
At home, she slipped into her new shirt. She took a photo of herself in the shirt. She sent the photo down the street to be printed at the pharmacy. She went down a few hours later and paid for it.
She put the photo of her in her new shirt in the card that said she was thinking of him.
She added a personal note, writing, “Wish you’d call. Wish you’d come by sometime. Really miss you.”
She called Chase’s sister to get his address. She sent the card and waited.
She felt satisfied with what she’d done. She bought a special shirt. She took a picture. She printed it. She bought a card. She got his address. She sent the card.
She felt satisfied knowing she’d done more for her son than he’d considered doing for her over the past year or so since he left.
She waited two weeks with no call or visit from Chase.
Then a card addressed from her son came in the mail.
She opened it. It was the same card, only in a different envelope.
Inside the card was a photo of her son in a baseball cap of the college where he graduated and a shirt that read, “Proudest Son on This Earth.”
Where she’d written, “Wish you’d call. Wish you’d come by sometime. Really miss you.”, Chase added the word, “too.”
And where she’d signed the card, he scratched out her name and wrote, “Chase.”