Last Sunday I accused my son and partner of forgetting it was Mother’s day. It wasn’t. I had the day wrong.
They said, it’s next week. I said, google it. They did. They were right. Maybe they had thought of it after all. All my indignation had no where to go. A little sharp pin inside.
She is looking out at me while I type this. A fading black and white image of my mother holding Jasper as a chubby baby. So briefly chubby. Now a stick thing. Wears a fitbit and counts his steps and flights of stairs and burns through calories.
She has on her photo smile. Slightly strained, but real none the less. It’s all about the eyes. Smiling happens there.
How she loved being a Grandmother. Even though she couldn’t lift him. She once told me she pushed him around the backyard in the wheelbarrow.
I can’t recall her last Mother’s Day. Blended with the mundaneness of ageing. Days determined by the menu. Fish on Fridays. A good day decided by who’s on night duty. Which carer she likes, on which day. Oh Carol is on holiday. How will she survive? I would have bought her a nightie from Suzanne’s or Myer. I would have taken her mandarins and peeled them for her. I would have cut her fingernails on her right hand. She would have complained about me hurting her as I did it. And when I finished she would tell me they weren’t short enough. I would have made her practice wearing her hearing aid. We would have watched some pre-lunch news. I would have opened her bed side drawer and thrown away the scrunched-up tissues and the mandarin pips. I would have tried to chuck out other things but she would have prevented me.
I think of visiting there – just to say Hi to some of the kind staff. Carol, Marie, Jane. But then the week goes by and I have not found the time. I never look at the mandarins in the grocers. What would I do once I got there? Poke my nose in the room, that is not hers any longer, to see another frail bird in the bed? To have my nostrils reminded of the smell of old people. See, that unlike Mum, they prefer the curtains open to the garden and the sun.
I am not sure what it is I feel when I remember her. What is this emotion of missing? Wishing more for them? Wishing for more for ourselves? It is an unsatisfying emotion. All this unresolved wishing. It goes out from you and leaves a hollow feeling behind. In the end you resemble a husk, after all the wishing is done. What can she be thinking, wherever it is that she is now? I want to wrap a blanket about her thin arms and hold her. I want to feel her soft curls. I want solid. I want strong. I want words that work, but words are failing me here. I feel all her longing for me and for my happiness. She had a way of devouring me. Again there is the act of disappearing, of taking away. I could never love her back with the same intensity that she felt for me. Piano playing fingers reaching for me. Even now I feel it.