‘Ladies day tomorrow. My treat,
Mum!’ Cries my daughter, whirling through the house, shedding lightness and
luggage in every room. ‘Find me a list of local spas.”
Love, well I don’t know about that. A film would be nice. It’s lovely to have
I’m here to show my appreciation. I missed your birthday. I want you to relax
and enjoy.” As we sit down for lunch,
Mum, can’t eat this. In fact - can’t eat anything with flour, milk or sugar.”
She scratches her arms, ‘Allergies.’
Love, but you always ate like a horse.’
Mother!’ Red meat is also off. As she
sips water and tucks into some lettuce, we go over her recent travels, work
schedule and the way her life is turning out.
should have studied math at university, Mum. You should have persuaded me - not
sat back and watched me sign up for Spanish literature.”
you were dead set on it!’
I? Well, if you hadn’t made it so
obvious you wanted me to be a teacher…”
think back, but can’t remember ever having had much influence on anything she’s
done, whether it was studying, dating or planting trees up north.
you never listened to me,’ I say.
I did, Mum. And to prove it, tomorrow, we’ll go shopping for you.’
morning, after breakfast, we waltz into the biggest mall downtown.
floor only,” she announces.
light upstairs is marvelous. Most of my shopping is done below ground, in the
gloom. We browse exotic boutiques and designer rooms, with me being careful not
to look at price tags or mention how far a dollar used to go.
is for you!” She laughs and pushes me and armfuls of swish clothes into gilded
changing rooms almost as big as our house. After I try on four nice,
but-not-quite me, outfits in Sasha’s
Separates, her eyes light on a chic black top on a side display.
on a minute. Look at this!’
I couldn’t wear that, Love.’
no. For me! It’s egggsactly what I’ve been looking for.’ And she snatches up a
black, skinny-rib sweater with a crossover, high-cut, fringed front, and darts
into my dressing room. The top fits her like a dream. The six-inch strings of
tiny, sparkling beads forming the fringes swing with every hip twitch.
‘Yes!’ she breathes. ‘Purrfect.’ Holding it
whilst she redresses, I notice some of the bead-strands are fraying.
look a bit dodgy,’ I say when she emerges.
that’s nothing. I’ll soon re-sew them.’
beads? I doubt she knows one end of a needle from the other - not that she isn’t
up to tackling anything, more - who mends clothes these days? But it doesn’t
matter, because the saleslady, offers a discount, and that’s that. As if
swaddling a newborn, an assistant wraps the garment in tissue and presents it
to the happy shopper.
home, the shopper dons the top immediately, humming as she irons her wash
loads, rummages through the house and sorts her suitcases. As I follow,
watching, she tells me how to restyle my hair, prepare couscous and update the
living room, all the time stroking the little sweater she’s hardly had off her
back. The fringe dancing with every move.
love this top, Mum.’ she sighs. ‘Such a good buy. A great souvenir of our day
tread on the first bead as I set the table for supper next morning and on a
second as I wash up. Another lodges
between my toes in the shower. I pick a couple more off the carpet beside the
guest bed, and a few from under the kitchen table. How many beads that
wonderful fringe contained. How
seductively they twinkled. How they pleased her. And how she cheers me up, I
think as I go to find a jar to put them in, knowing full well I’ll be picking
up the beads until she returns.