“Have you been getting calls from a number in Glendora lately?” I asked my brother.
“Do you think it’s our mom?” he answered, immediately understanding why I was asking.
“Yeah. It’s the same one over and over again, not the usual telemarketer pattern. I really need to block it.”
This recent conversation between my brother and I sounds similar to many we’ve had over the last ten years or so. It’s not a typical sibling conversation about their mother. But typically kids don’t go decades without contact with their mom nor do they actively avoid it. The last time I spoke with her, I was 23 or 24 years old. I’m 51 now.
“It’s weird. I’m really starting to have a hard time remembering what she was like,” I said with a twinge of guilt, a pinch of sadness, a dash of anger.
After so many years, putting on a mask of indifference toward having an absent mother has become as easy as wearing my old favorite worn hoodie. But everyone once in awhile, a series of unknown numbers show up on my phone, or I meet a new person who asks, “Do your parents live nearby?” Which parents?, I always think, before I offer up the easy answer, which is to tell them about my dad and stepmom who do indeed live only 10 minutes away on a good traffic day. (Why I don’t see them as often as other children with that kind of proximity to their parents is another story.) These reminders sometimes bring up a bit sadness and sometimes they cause a flood of emotions. Either way, I know that there might be a little crack in the wall I’ve built and it will take some time to patch it back up.
This time I think I’m going to leave that crack open and start writing what memories I still have…