Wendy French

Forge Books

Mother comes to visit . . .

I could only hope that other mothers were like her, a combination of idiosyncrasies and careful manners, wrapped in a department store wardrobe of navy, black, and gray. Sensible shoes and pearl earrings. Restless hands and perennial hiccups.

I hoped that every mother was a knit-purl-knit-purl kind of woman, producing countless stitches of tiny sweater sleeves and collars for her nonexistent grandchildren, just in case.

I looked past her annoying habits with the practiced disdain of a twenty-three-year-old daughter; a roll of the eyes or an ambivalent shrug performed on cue. I looked past the feminine hygiene products cushioning the cardboard walls of her care packages and the spontaneous long-distance etiquette lessons, which usually took place on my dime. I could even look past her cheerful insistence that anything could be fixed with a strand of dental floss or a piece of slightly chewed gum and a little ingenuity.

What I couldn't look past was her presence in my doorway at seven-thirty on a Thursday morning, suitcase in hand.