My mother has been dead for six weeks now. I think of her often. How is she and has she found out for sure what she once believed and I long doubted, that there is a place out there somewhere where she can finally be at rest?
It’s a curious confusion because although I operate on the belief that my mother is now no more, she lives on in my imagination and memory and in some strange way she grows bigger on re-remembering.
One of my daughters intends to write a short biography of my mother as part of a university assignment. She tells me she plans to write from the perspective of contested truths about my mother. The differences between the ways my mother represented herself and the perspectives of others who knew her.
My mother the saint, as distinct from my mother the manipulative scheming - I went to say ‘bitch’ but that seems too harsh by far. Not my view, never my view. Manipulative yes, but always as a function of my mother's impotence. Her inability to ask directly out of a belief that she should somehow do without.
I put up a picture of sunflowers on my Facebook page three weeks ago. Glorious, upright, full faced sunflowers.
They are now ready for the compost bin, sad and dishevelled, an embarrassment in a vase.
They put me in mind of my mother’s body before she died and the direction in which my own body now heads.
I check my hands from time to time for signs of ageing, the tell tale liver spots, big brown freckles alongside the bulging veins on my otherwise pink fingers.
The rings on my fingers remain the same. They scarcely age, though the wedding ring I first wore nearly 37 years ago is beginning to thin out on one side.
A friend, now in company with my mother out there somewhere, made this ring for me. He cast it in gold and shaped the image of a man on one side reaching out one hand to a woman on the other. The man is bigger than the woman. His shoulders stand upright, the highest point of the ring’s texture, while the woman, who tends to sit on the inside of my hand, is much flatter.
I wear my ring this way, with the man visible, the woman underneath, not consciously out of any symbolic view, but out of aesthetics and comfort. If I try to put both figures on top and in full view they look indistinguishable and the bulky man rubs against the sides on my eternity ring on my middle finger, or if I push it against my little finger with the man it feels lumpy.
I completed one of those inane tests you find on Facebook the other day, one which tells you after you have answered a series of multiple choice questions around your preferences, the type of person you should avoid.
Turns out the person I should most avoid is a comedian. The person who spends his time cracking jokes. The person with whom I can never be serious.
Like all these quizzes there’s a grain of truth here perhaps, though in such an absolute way as to render it almost meaningless.
Still it set me thinking.
I had thought the person I might most seek to avoid is a person like me, a person who talks a lot, who might tend to dominate a conversation, a person who wants to be seen and heard, unlike the woman on my wedding ring, who hides underneath and brushes up against the soft padding of my hand.
Sometimes she rubs against hard objects out there in the world, this woman who wears away into a thin semblance of herself. This woman who disappears.