This Sunday, the Sunday before Mother’s Day, I am dreading a Mother’s Day without a Mother…and remembering her with much love.
Here, from my book There’s a Basketball on My Buffet! a story about the mother relationship, and the role of in between.
The middle bead
Here I am at the supermarket, a mid-life woman hiding from her mother behind the gladiolas.
I watch her charm the young woman at the deli counter with an in-depth analysis of shaved versus sliced thin. Her gold hoop earrings gleam through white hair she still wears down to her shoulders. Until recently, she tinted it a fawn brown. After months of being in the hospital, it had grown a disconcerting strip of white down the middle. Even then, she wanted to colour it. (We never say “dye.”) We told her the chemicals of the colour treatment would ignite with the oxygen she is tethered to and she would go up in a burst of flames. It is one of the very few times she has ever lost an argument.
In the grocery store, I am hiding from my mother to avoid an argument. We have already clashed over a number of things, including the weather and the cost of produce. It began when I came to pick her up for an afternoon of shopping.
“My God, your cheeks are all red and your nose is, too,” she says.
“I know mom. I have a cold. There’s nothing I can do about it,” I say.
“Honey, I’m not trying to hurt your feelings,” she says as I help her with her jacket. “By the way,” she continues as she fumbles with the buttons, “that little blue jacket you’ve been wearing…I don’t like it.” I glance in the hall way mirror; I look like I am actually an adult; in fact, I look like an adult who looks very much like my mother.
My son shrugs off her slights like silk while they cling to me like burs on burlap.
The next month, she is back at the hospital. My son perches at the end of her bed holding her hand, laughing at her stories. She is blooming in his attentions, bestowing her charms, throwing her beads to the audience.
I am in the middle and their arms cross over my lap and hold me fast. But I am inconsequential. A forgotten conduit. Unimportant.
My mother, my son and me. What more precious place is there than between them? I am content. I am blessed. I am the middle bead.
The one before, the one after.
Today there is no hiding. I can see my mother clearly. I can see myself, too, and I know that soon enough, I will be the one before.