My mother is packing her bags.
In two days, she leaves for a three-week holiday with one sister to visit another who resides in Auckland, New Zealand. It’s nice for mom to leave when I’m in Brisbane; she is assured by experience that her daughter will look after her house and beloved garden well; better, in fact, than her, she’ll concede in rare moments.
I’m lying on her bed, watching her ponder the number of clothes and shoes she should take. “I’m going to miss you,” I say.
“I’m going to miss you, too,” she says.
“That’s good,” I reply, “because sometimes I think I get on your nerves.”
“You do,” my mother responds with great alacrity and relish.
“Yeah,” I say, equably, “you get on my nerves, too. But I think that’s natural with any two people who live together, no matter what their relationship.”
Mom agrees, almost automatically. She resumes her packing. Then, after more than a few seconds of silence, says, with real surprise, “I get on your nerves?”
*Written January 2012, on the occasion of my last six-month visit, September 2011-April 2012.