It stung, you know, that slap.

Glaring at her, I rubbed my cheek. It was the first time my Mother had ever raised a hand to me. A teenager, full of rage and uncertainty was leading me into trouble. As an adult, I now feel I deserved it. That’s how I was feeling right now.

In the Nursing Home, my Beautiful Mother was wandering the Dementia Ward. She had forgotten that slap, but I hadn’t. It had been a turning point in my life. I’d arrived at adulthood much more certain, much more grounded and appreciating all my Mother did for me.

I placed the bunch of flowers in the vase, fussing over how they were arranged, until a famillar figure came ambling into the room. Picking up the vase, I carried it to the private bathroom that was attached to the room. Half filling it with water, I listened as Mum clambered into bed.

It was a moment I’d been dreading, when she would forget my name, and who I was.

Then I heard a chuckle, as I came back out, and positioned the vase on the bedside table.

“Remember that time when I slapped you? You were so furious. Sometimes I wonder how I managed to raise a daughter like you, who even visits me everyday, no matter how crazy I am. My how the tables have turned.

Happy to have her lucid today, I returned the chuckle.

A new leaf

“I hate you!” I slammed the door shut in my Mother’s face.

She continued to knock. “Cynthia, I’m sorry.” I could hear the tears in her voice. She always cried at times like this, so I was immune to it. I didn’t want her to get her own way.

I put on the dowdy black dress that I had worn to my Grandfather’s funeral, finding heels to match and a black scarf should I need to hide my tears from my relatives.

Footsteps disappeared down the hallway and I knew that my Mother had left me.

After a few minutes, I strode in what I thought was a confident manner, out of my bedroom, down the hallway, and into the kitchen. My Mother was finding her keys in her handbag.

“Are you ready now Cynthia?” she asked in a voice that hid so much hurt.

I flounced out of the kitchen door and into the sunlight, deciding to not say a word to her.

In silence, my Mother drove me to the cemetery. Other cars, many of which I recognised as belonging to various Aunts, Uncles and Cousins, crowded into the car park when we arrived.

There was a gathering in the little church in amongst the gravestones. My Nanna’s coffin sat in the middle, surrounded by flowers. The orchids in the flower arrangements reminded me of my Grandfather who had grown them in the greenhouse, and I felt my resolve not to cry start to break down. Being the eldest Grandchild, it was soon my turn to lead my Cousins in our bit of the service.

I held it together, but only just.
We all stumbled out of the dark church and back into the beautiful sunlit day. The sound of quiet weeping filled my ears as I followed the coffin.

At the graveside, as the coffin started to descend, I burst into tears. All the grief I had held onto melted as my beloved Nanna departed from view.

My Mother was standing nearby, watching me.

I walked over to her and put my arm around her shoulders. I realised that I loved her despite our fights, and I was determined to make sure I never said those nasty words to her from now on.