No, those lively woman could not be her mother. Her mother must be the one inside on this beautiful day, staring at the television in solitude.
Cheryl hesitated before slowly moving over to the loveseat. Should she sit on the opposite end, or plop into one of the chairs? She was unsure of what to do, unsure of herself. Her body positioned itself right next to the small couch and stopped dead. Her mother turned from the screen to look in her direction, most likely noticing the bulky figure in her peripheral vision.
“Mom?” she asked in a low voice. She wondered if the waver she heard was noticeable to other ears.
“Cheryl,” came her mother’s raspy voice. “What are you doing here?” There was no accusation in her tone. Cheryl mulled the words over in her head, fighting the instantaneous thought that she was an unwelcome visitor. She told herself to focus on her task, her whole reason for making the three hour trip out to the hospital like setting.
“I thought I’d drop in and see how you were doing,” she said. “It’s been a while.”
“Well, that’s nice,” her mother replied, turning back to the screen. “My show is just finishing up. I never miss an episode. Not since I started watching it back in ’89. You remember it, right? Danielle has been through so much over the years. Did you know she had a baby a few years back?” Her mother continued to speak about the character, not stopping for Cheryl to answer any of the questions. Cheryl had never known her mother to speak so much. She remembered the soap opera her mother watched clearly, along with the terse commands to shut her mouth whenever it was time for an episode to begin. She was so stunned by her mother’s chatter that she stood frozen to the spot. Her mother was actually speaking to her while the show was playing on screen. Her mother finally stopped for a moment and glanced over at her.
“Don’t you want to sit down?” Grace asked, staring up at her. Cheryl jumped into action and settled stiffly into a chair as if her mother had hollered at her. Her back was ramrod straight as her bottom perched on the edge. She stared expectantly at her mother, reverting back to her days as a young girl. Instead of telling her what to do, her mother simply stared back at her, waiting for something. The awkward silence finally got to Cheryl and she spoke up.
“You look good,” she said. She stopped again and waited.
“I’m old,” her mother said. “You’ve changed, too. Gotten a bit thick since I last saw you.” It was said matter of fact, but Cheryl still felt the sting of insult. She rubbed her hands over her wide hips. Years of grabbing snacks on the go and growing two children in her womb had changed her youthful figure into an rounded out balloon. Cheryl pinched her lips into a smile as a response. “That’s what age will do to ya,” her mother finished. She turned back to the television to catch the last shocking moment before the theme song played.
“Well,” she said, “that was quite the end today.” She picked up the remote control and the screen went blank. “Would you like to go outside? There’s a gazebo off that way.” She waved her hand out the window. “I like it there. The flowers are all in bloom right now. I don’t much care for the rose bushes because of all the thorns, you know. But, there are some beautiful yellow daffodils and red tulips. Oh, and the irises are opening up nicely. You’ll like it.”
Cheryl opened her mouth slightly, but no words came out. Her mind spun in a confused collage of images, memories, and bright emotions.
To be continued…