Every year on Mother’s Day I go to see my mom. Going there always makes me emotional. I get waves of sadness, and sometimes anger. By the end of the day, I’m as exhausted as if I climbed a mountain. And equally short of breath.
I take an Uber from the train station. I explain the drill on the way there. We come up to the iron gates. He buzzes and says ‘I have Miss Shelley here for her mother, Elizabeth.’ The gates open as if by magic. The grounds are gorgeous, of course. Green expanses and a little pond and birds chirping. The driver drops me off at the entrance to the sprawling building. I walk up the stairs and feel his stare in the back of my neck. I don’t turn around.
I don’t know the receptionist. I tell her my name, and she gives me a tag. Next year there will be a different one, so I don’t bother with her name. She says, ‘isn’t it nice that you visit your mother today.’ I smile and nod and think to myself, if only she knew. A yearly visit doesn’t make me a great daughter. But it’s all I can handle.
The receptionist leads me through the corridor to my mother’s room. My mother sits in a wheelchair facing the window, like a cliché from some British movie. I walk around and look at her. She looks old and frail.
“Hi, Mom,” my smile is faker than the First Lady’s. She looks up to me, and I can see the frown as she tries to remember.
“Hello, dear,” she says, but I’m not fooled. The spark isn’t there. “What’s for lunch today?” She goes on, “I’m hungry.”