I have not been in my mother’s keeping since I was seven years old. I can count on one hand the brief encounters I’ve had with her since that time. It’s been twelve years since my last actual look at her person and eleven years since I’ve heard the rasp of her voice.
I remember though. I remember the olive of her sun damaged leathery skin and the forest green with a starburst of honey at the pupil of her eyes. I remember the inky black shine of her hair and the gravel in her voice. I remember the angular lines of her face and the snub of her nose. She’s as clear as a picture in my mind. It’s no bother that I don’t have any actual pictures of her. I don’t need them. I have visited this mental image of her often as I looked in the mirror trying to find a piece of her in me. My blue jean eyes, delicately pale skin and sandy blonde hair superimposed with her image. I’ve never found her in my heart shaped face.
Over the years, I have searched her name a few times on social media with no result. I’ve typed her name into court record search bars and twice found her to of been arrested for public drunkenness and once in the case of a emergency protective order filed against her.
I’ve tried Google a few times but never went past the first page. Never….until one day a few weeks back, I did. There she was. Page four of Google. Three quarters of the way down. A small paragraph from a funeral home in Tulsa asking if anyone has any information on the identity of her family members dated back to 2019. There you are, Mother. I’ve found you.
I read and then reread those few sentences until my eyes blurred. My mind, usually running one hundred and fifty-seven tabs at once narrowed to that one article. Quietly mouthing the words one by one. Stalling. I hadn’t clicked the article yet. I was still on Google, page four. I hadn’t made any commitments to this knowledge. Floated on the surface of what I knew was the beginning of the end of her story. The end of a part of my own story.
I could decide to not click that listing. I could leave her in the anonymous ether of unclaimed bodies. I could disavow the parts of my genetic code that came from her. I could metaphorically bleed myself of the blood that came from her. Metaphorically carve the bones of her existence out of myself. I could dissolve every single part of her from my life. Exactly like she did of me.
I sat absolutely still as these thoughts materialized and then faded. Formed the scenes in my minds eye of the Allie that walks away. The Allie who builds yet another wall between herself and her past. The Allie who adds another weighty ball and chain to drag behind her. The Allie who pretends that it didnt happen to her. The Allie I can’t ever be again because the weight was crushing her.
I cringed at the scenes in the mist of my mind. This Allie deserves to smile all the way to her eyes. This Allie is worthy and precious. This Allie is strong and capable. This Allie, right now, in this moment, deserves the end of the story.
I clicked the link. I carefully typed the number into my phone. As the phone rang, I imagined myself no longer floating on the surface of indecision but instead extending my arms to make the first decisive stroke into the depths of the last chapter of my mother’s life.
Because she did have a life. Her blood and bone as real as my own. Her DNA irrevocably embedded in mine. There is no carving her out without losing pieces of myself. There is no denying her to anonymity. We all leave legacies.
The ringing was replaced by a soft feminine voice inquiring the purpose of my call. I took a deep breath. Steadied my trembling hands. I imagined the pull of my muscles as I descended into the metaphorical sea of my mother’s end.
That old image of my mother shimmered in my mind as the tapping of a keyboard floated through the phone. “Hello, Mother” I thought. I wondered which Allie she thought her end would meet. I wondered if she even thought of me at all.