At Once a Matriarch   

After a few years of self imposed semi-estrangement from my mother, slowly, and without realizing when the feeling happened, I missed her. It was very difficult to offer that first invitation, like asking an ex-boyfriend on a date. What would she think? Did I want to get serious again? Would she think I was in love with her, again? Was I ready, at last out of my adolescence to be in love with my mother? I asked her out for a day of shopping and lunch. Then we went to see a few matinees. We have the same tastes in films. We both love Brad Pitt. We crooned together. She sympathizes with Jen, and I support Angie, but we worked it out for the sake of the kids.

She read novels. I asked her to preview books, before I tackled the first five pages and bored my poor self to death. Still salting the water for me cooking soup, she regaled in her responsibilities, and I could use a qualified employee. It took a few years, but one steamy day in the kitchen, I had to ask, “where are we in this relationship” as we were preparing Passover dinner together. Way past third base (I was after all roasting the turkey because mom couldn’t bend into the oven anymore.) I asked her if she thought I was a good daughter? “Well,” she replied, “there were just a few difficult years, but you are the best.” She grabbed my arms and kissed my cheek, hard. I cringed, only a little. Though deeply relieved.

She still thought I was loony, so she says, but it didn’t seem to affect the fact that she loved me. She trusted me with the damn turkey! There’s got to be an explanation for this change. Were those twenty bad years wasted time? Does this mutual acceptance mean that I grew up or did she? We both aged, but growth, did we do that together? Has one of us compensated for the other? Did we both mature?

          That morning came when my mother called to tell me the new “hiding place” for her insurance papers and the deed to her burial plot, and asked if I’ll remember—in the event of her death—to remove the key to her safe deposit box that’s been taped beneath the third drawer down. Did I say she should not spend another second of her precious life worrying about documents? No. What I told her, in my, mother please, I’m doing something else voice was, “Should you die, peacefully, leaving all your worldly goods for me to attend to, don’t worry about a thing. I might forget; I might remember. But what’s it to you? You’ll be dead.”

     We laughed. She told me, “You’ll remember.”  She knew I would.