Passing Strangers

I went to see Mum on Tuesday. It was the first time I’d seen her in almost three weeks because I’ve been away on holiday. After a break like that, I always feel a little nervous – will Mum know who I am after not seeing me for a while? Then again, does she know who I am anyway? And does it matter whether she knows I’m her son? A son’s relationship with his mother reduced to so many questions, so much uncertainty.

Someone asked me recently whether I enjoy going to see Mum. There you are, another question. It’s an interesting one. I love Mum as I always have but I don’t really know her anymore. And, more to the point, she doesn’t know me at all. We’re strangers who spend time together every week.

Mum with hat

I took Mum’s cousin Pam with me and as the weather was hinting that summer might finally have arrived, we sat in the garden.

Mum had smiled when I arrived but probably only after I’d smiled first. She seemed well – her persistent cough was less evident – and the three of us sat, often in companionable silence, in the sunshine.

So, to return to my friend’s question, did I enjoy the visit? I still love to see Mum and am always relieved when she seems content. I always leave with a hollow feeling, though. It’s that uncertainty and those questions again. So, enjoyment? I don’t think I can truly call it that and I feel guilty for saying so because those visits aren’t about me.

Perhaps it’s not about spending time with my Mum anymore. It’s about visiting a stranger.

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