It was Mother’s Day Eve, 2020. Excitement hanging in the air almost blotted out the pain of COVID19 lockdown. We were going to “ Zoom” together courtesy of our first born!
The day before we had received a message from south of the border to introduce us to “Mollie” the rescue cat. “She’s a bit old and a bit tubby” said first born son in a group text. “ Her name is Mollie”. How serendipitous I thought. Molly was the pet name my Grand Dad had for my Mum. “ He always called her Molly” my return text gushed at him! “ and old and tubby? It’ll be like me coming to stay at your place!”, chortling as I wrote!
There was a family photo Mollie, son, daughter in law and grandson. A love portrait study of son stroking the cat – sunlight streaming through the window and a somber, reflective “ Mollie sort of does Mona Lisa” moment captured by the photographer.
The day dawned with a group text from south of the border “ the cat got out”. First born daughter offered sage advice “ don’t let her out for at least the first week. A photo of the long legged, athletic grandson running – giving chase as Mollie made her break to freedom!
Time for the Zoom meeting arrived. Text message” have you found her?” “not yet”! And then “ she was in the tree” ! And there she was! Relief bordering on exuberance permeated the house!
And so the Zoom Meeting began. There we all were. Hundreds, more than a thousand miles apart by heart linked by insoluble love! First enquiry: ”How’s Mollie?”
“Well”, he who was eleven pounds thirteen ounces at birth begins “we have to tell you about the cat…..” I can already feel that anybody who has seen pictures of the cat has been wondering . “The cat it not real! Its been the best thirty bucks we’ve spent in the two dollar shop EVA!” SYNCHRONISED exhaling from all the attendees at this particular “meeting”!
“No, seriously Mum, we had to do something about the kookaburra. Someone said they are frightened by cats and so we put this in the window to keep it away!” Not even giving themselves one split second to make any further attempt to convince us they were serious, there was much showing and telling of the “Happy Mothers’ Day” box in which Mollie had been “wrapped”. They hugged and squeezed Mollie to show how her eyes bulged and her tongue stuck out to the accompaniment of howls of outage and gales of laughter!
I felt stupid for having cranked up from my memory bank, a kindergarten song from 1955 “I love little pussy, her coat is so warm and if I don’t hurt her, she’ll do me no harm. We’ll sit by the fire, I’ll give her some food and she’ll love me because I am gentle and good.” That led to a discussion between the cat owner and spouse and my older daughter remarking that they are the last generation who will remember The Benny Hill Show and be able to laugh about it, followed by a disclosure that the Benny Hill Theme music was going to be their (son’s and spouse’s) wedding music!
First born decided it was time for a drink. I had my water bottle and had just taken a massive gulp when I saw her return to the “control panel” with a bottle of champagne. I was mid swallow with the second gulp when she proclaimed “How do you open these things” which shocked me so much ( in her youth she had been referred to as “The Fish” – not because of her swimming ability rather as in “drinks like a fish”) that I guffawed with laughter – inhaling and exhaling at the same time. I began to choke! I could not breathe. I had water coming out of my mouth while trying to get down my throat, it came out of my nose. I was terrified. Family on line and in the room thought it was screamingly funny and at one stage there was a suggestion I may have lost bladder control! I DID NOT!
I couldn’t speak “Oh she gets these coughing fits every now and again…. you know your mother” chirped in Long Lean and Loveable. My whole life flashed before me and strangely enough I felt a sense of relief because I knew I was dying but at least I was not alone in a corridor waiting to be attached to a respirator having been triaged as too old and with significant health issues. I was surrounded by those I love most in the world.
What a way to go. But I didn’t! I am glad! Most of all I am thankful! I had no idea what I was getting into in 1971. My first grand daughter came to see me today. She did not go past the front fence. A friend of mine was waiting for the result of a COVID19 test. I had visited her recently. I was staying away from outsiders till the test results were in. The thing I had been most looking forward to was having a coffee with my first grandchild. I had been very miserable about not being able to do that. But there she was this morning. Flowers and gifts and a discussion across the fence.
Nearly 22 years ago, she was in the arms of my own Mother and it sets me to wondering how wonderful life is. There has been much waxing lyrical about how we are all in this together. I’m not too sure about that I have to say. Cynicism grabbed me round the throat this morning as I watched political commentators go on and on about curves and lock downs and budgets and unemployment and economic collapse and bloody football.
Having been immersed to the point of drowning in laughter, love, story, and silence; those awkward moments that happen when parents and their children and their children’s children, meet each other as adults, face to face and eye to eye. In that meeting I am reminded that this place, this moment, this time is where and when and why I am alive!