It Never Happened, But I Wish It Had-An Imaginary Conversation

My immigrant mother was never able or willing to adjust to life in America, and she paid a heavy price for this.  She lost the respect of her relatives and even of her six children.  As the youngest child, I sensed the disrespect and behaved badly towards her as well.  When I was a teen-ager, I drifted far away from her and never reconciled.

But late in my life, long after her death, I finally understood what had happened in her life and have tried to achieve closure with her by imagining and writing about it.  In doing this, I’ve been able to create a new reality of the mutual love that existed between us, even though unspoken.

The following is part of an imaginary conversation we never had, but I wish we could have had:

“Mother, I remember that when I was about 15, I wanted something that for some reason I couldn’t have and I began screaming and hitting the wall. You folded your arms across your chest and laughed so hard that I stopped screaming.  I had never seen you looking so alive before.  Why were you laughing?

   “I laughed because you were like a real American child.  No child in Russia would dare to do that in front of his parents and, maybe, who knows? Maybe I was a little proud.  You were so wild!. . . always going your own way. . . strong!. . . smart.   Ach!  I wish I could have been so smart!   But. . .”

“Mother, somewhere I have the memory that you took care of me when I was in pain…crying.”

       “Of course, who else?

“You nursed me through my accidents and diseases and spoon-fed me with chicken soup and cod-liver oil. I can see you syringing my aching ears with warm water.

  “I did, I did.  Oh my God, I did!  You make me cry, Dina.  I cared for you.  I forgot how much I cared for you!”

  “And, Mama, even now, you’re the one I still call to when I’m lonely or hurting.”

     “Tyereh tochter, my dear daughter, I love you, love you. . . forever.”

  “You gave me life, Mama.  I love you, too.”