She breezed into the room where I was sitting as casually as if she’d not been missing from my life for the last 18 years and said in a loud voice, ‘I’m dying,’ much the way one might say, ‘I’m here’ after having arrived at their intended destination.
Before I could think how to respond she pulled a printer, already out of its box, but new and unused, from a handbag that looked like something Mary Poppins might travel with, an image totally incongruent with who my mother was when I was a child.
I took it from her when she offered it to me saying nothing as I did so, but inside my mind was a race track of whirling questions each thought like a numbered car going round and round with the lead car representing the overriding thought, a printer, 18 years of silence and you bring me a printer for my computer?
I considered for a moment that it might be a peace-offering of sorts although I’m not sure why as she had not said, ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I wish things had been different’ or any one of many things that might have made room in my heart for healing.
Instead she walked about the room looking out of the window and checking the corners much like someone might go behind a cleaning crew, on a mission to find an overlooked speck of dust.
Her voice sounded unnaturally upbeat for someone sharing details of their funeral arrangements and the one-sided conversation seemed more as if she were planning a big wedding than an end of life ceremony.
I was still sitting in the same chair I’d been in when she arrived, holding on to the printer that I’d foolishly assumed was a gift. As she listed from memory all the things still left to do, I slowly realized that the printer was to be used to complete the tasks for her funeral and rather than an end of life reconciliation, what she really wanted was a personal assistant.
My mother’s birthday is only a few weeks away and I wonder sometimes if she remembers mine as I do hers or if she’s forgotten it as easily as she seems to have forgotten me and my sister, Margaret.
Our three birthdays all occur within 28 days of each other making it difficult for me to let hers slip by unnoticed.
I always notice and I wonder … is she still living and how will I know when she’s not?
Given her upcoming birthday, I’m not surprised to be dreaming of her now or even that she might be dying. Checking the obituaries is the only way I know she’s still alive, a sad end to a mother-daughter story that I feel sure began quite differently when I was born in 1960.
I wonder how many other adult children search the internet for signs of a parent’s passing and if there is any peace for them or closure when they find it.
If you’ve got a story similar to mine, perhaps you’d like share it in a comment below.