If Only Mom Were Here

by | Jul 29, 2023 | And Now

I hear mother’s deep voice from the hallway, Silent Night, offkey, drunken sailor style and of course I know what that means. Dad and I are sitting in the dining room, dirty plates and empty glasses in front of us. He is staring at the ceiling as if it were the roof of an elaborately decorated cathedral.
“It’s not even midnight yet,” I say.
“She’s early this year.”
I go to find her. She’s sitting on the floor in the entryway, near the cloak rack, her head resting against the wall, glass in one hand, cigarette in the other.
“Silent Night, Holy Night . . .Oh hey. Come sit with me, sing with me.”
I have no intention of sitting or singing with her.
“I’ve suddenly found my singing voice,” she says and starts again, louder this time and, even more offkey than before.
“No, you haven’t.”
“You’re so mean. My mom would never have said anything like this to me. Never.”
“Maybe she never heard you sing.”
“She heard me sing. Plenty of times.”
“Well, I’m not your mother.”
“And that’s exactly the problem. You are not my mother.” She waves her cigarette for emphasis at my face. “If only mum were . . .” The rest of the sentence is lost. Like every year, this is the moment she begins to cry. It’s gentle at first but soon turns into sobbing and ends in prolonged wailing. “I want my mom.”
“Here we go again,” says dad who joined us in the hallway. He’s looking at his watch. “We’ll be able to get her to bed soon.” He takes the glass and the cigarette from her.
“Mom, mummy, mummy, I miss you. I wish you were here.” She stops crying abruptly, jerks up, eyes wide, her head hitting the wall. “Oh no. What a horrific idea. What a nightmare. Just imagine . . . Imagine what she’d look like after all this time in the grave. Oh no. Yuck. Disgusting.”
She gets up, staggers down the long dark corridor to her bedroom and slams the door.
“Well,” I say. “That was new.”
“It certainly was. Lets’ hope it won’t become part of the repertoire.”
“I don’t think so. I’m sure she’ll remember sooner or later that grandma was cremated.”

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