by Myles Abroad
A man mourns the loss of his Mother.
Going Home to Say Goodbye
I pulled into my Mother's driveway; my heart was heavy and my eyes stung with tears. It was a cold, spring day; the sky was leaded grey, with a continuous soft drizzle as though the weather wept in sympathy with me. I, along with my family, had just said farewell to my Mother. After the funeral, I took my wife aside.
"Teresa," I said. "I just can't face everyone now. My goodbye doesn't feel complete. I'm going home for a while."
Looking at me compassionately, she embraced me. "Of course, Jimmy. Take all the time you need," she whispered into my ear. Squeezing her hand, I left the cemetery and drove home: my childhood home.
With a sigh, I looked at the small cottage I was raised in. My eyes rested on the bench in the front yard. With a pang in my chest, memories of sitting there, on my Mother's lap in the sunshine, flooded my mind. Her strong, beautiful voice sounded in my ear as she sang a ballad to me. I could smell the faint scent of her perfume and felt her gentle caress as she ran her fingers through my hair.
I shook my head in despair as I walked to the front porch, bracing against a gust of wind and rain. I unlocked and opened the door, quickly closing it against the elements.
"Mammy. It's Jimmy..." I yelled, the words dying in my throat. She wasn't there to hear me. My breath caught. My involuntary greeting stirred up the hurt in my heart. I looked around at the familiar hallway with new eyes. The same pictures on the wall, but now the house was cold, quiet and lifeless.
Hesitantly, I opened the kitchen door and stepped into a bright and warm room. The air was humid from the burbling slow boil of the kettle as it sat on the range; the smell of baking bread making my stomach grumble. My Mother's thin, frail figure stood at the kitchen sink. She faced me as she wiped her aged hands on a tea towel. Her wizened face broke into a welcoming smile.
"Ah, Jimmy. Come in and have a cup of tea with me."
Wistfully, I looked over at the kitchen table. Two cups and saucers were laid out in expectation of my arrival, a routine we had settled into. Every day after work, I visited her and we shared a cup of tea; a few minutes of solace in an otherwise frenetic life. She lived alone, her fierce independence displaying a strength of character that remained despite her dwindling health.
I sat in my usual seat, watching her as she poured my tea, and then hers. She sat down and took a sip of her tea. The shake in her grip caused the Delph to rattle, as she replaced the delicate cup on its saucer. She folded her hands on the table, looked across at me and smiled.
"Now Jimmy. Tell me about your day."
"Today was a hard day, Mammy. We had your funeral and so many people were there. It was a beautiful service. Each of us took turns to share our memories of you. I knew this day would come, but it's so hard to say goodbye. "
She reached across the table and gripped my hand in her own. "Jimmy. I miss you too. But it's only for a short while."
I wiped at a tear that had started to run down my cheek. "There are so many things I never got to say to you. Now that I have my own children, I understand why you were so strict. I'm sorry..."
"Jimmy!" she said, as she tightened her grip on my hand. "It's alright. I understand. Wasn't I a child once? Let it go and let me go. You have Teresa and the children, my grandchildren. Live your life." She smiled and took another sip of her tea.
I glanced down and lifted the cup to my lips. It was cold and empty. I looked back up to my mother. She was not there. The kitchen, sat in a gloomy light and a musty smell hung in the air. A chill had penetrated the room, the fire in the range having gone out five days ago. There was no welcome. I was an intruder in an abandoned house. I set the cup back down on its saucer and slowly got up from the table.
"Goodbye Mammy," I said, for the last time.