My mom is a pretty awesome person. She is a tireless volunteer, an activist, a former RCMP archivist, and she's currently in charge of the difficult job of taking care of my post-stroke father, who is somewhere around stage 4 of grieving his very recent blindness. It has been a tough year for the Drives family to say the least. I appreciate my family. I appreciate my mother. She is also the maker of pies, which is good people in my book.
For many years at OC, I also had a second mother. Many of the drivers called her Mom, some out of respect, some parroting other drivers, most just couldn't find another word to call her that fit as well as "Mom". It was simply the word that best described how she treated us.
Mom rode my number twelve (and number two for you veterans) for years. She'd hop on the bus, say her morning rituals, and commence with the small talk right away.
"How are you doing?" became "How's Renée?" became "Has she had the baby yet?" became "I bought this bear for little Jakob" became "How are the kids?" became "You're getting a little grey!" became "They're HOW OLD now?!?" and so on an so forth.
One day, Mom walked on the bus with a small tinfoil package. I could see a bit of steam rising from the foil chimney that had formed in the top fold of the warm treat. This woman had baked me a banana bread, and was proudly describing her process, her ingredients, and the care in which she made it. I'm normally pretty cynical when it comes to food given to me by passengers. I had never eaten anything given to me by a person riding my bus. I teach my kids about candy from the man in the white van, and it is a lesson I always took to heart.
However, after Mom got off at her stop, and I continued on with this bread sitting beside me, steaming out an aroma of lightly toasted walnut and cooling banana, I was seriously considering breaking my rule. For thirty minutes I smelled what could only be lightly toasted walnuts, the crusty caramelized exterior of where bread meets a hot pan, and the unmistakable aroma of banana and sugar dueling it out on the stage of warm crusty goodness.
The first bite was still warm, and it tasted like home.
Mom knew me as a trucker trying to figure out how to deal with cargo that walked and talked, and helped me grow up into the man I am, walking and talking on my own as a bus driver in this city. She shared her stories of growing up in Jamaica, her family, and all the things that made her, well... her.
She baked me many banana breads over the years. In a job where you find many of your day's calories coming from the Quickie at Bayshore, home baked banana bread can become more valuable to job satisfaction than a negotiated benefit.
I credit Mom for breaking me out of my bus driver shell, and making me think about all the great things that happen to me at my job. I credit Mom for making my job enjoyable in that snowstorm, when the whole bus hopped out and helped push a man and his car past the curb of his apartment building on Somerset.
Most of all, I thank Mom for that banana bread.
Wherever you are, Mom, I'm thinking of you today. I hope the sun is shining on you.