Monday, April 1, 2013

Rebecca, My Mother, and Me

My parents went camping at Cape Hatteras on their honeymoon, carrying a tent, sleeping bag, and a copy of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. My father was a man who loved to read but when he discovered that his young bride had brought a rival to his affections, he was a bit miffed. "Of course I brought a book, we were there for a week" my mother explained to me years later, and I was in complete agreement.

Several years after that, when she gave me my own copy of Rebecca, I read and reread it until the glued paperback binding gave way and I had to hold it together with a rubber band.

Much, much later, my mother and I spent a few days together on the Oregon coast. I can't remember what books we took with us, but I was working at Elliott Bay then and I know a stack of arcs would have been part of our baggage. What I do remember is Mother and me sitting on a beach in a patch of winter sunlight, each with our own copy of the Sunday paper, doing the crossword puzzle in companionable silence.

Words were our bond and sometimes our battle line. We read and we talked and we told each other stories all of our lives. Today I feel heavy with the weight of stories, told and untold, those that are still to happen and those that went unspoken.

She was always there, usually at the end of a telephone line. I woke up this morning after a fitful sleep, knowing that April had begun, without my mother. I know it but I still want to write her a note. I guess this is it.

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