Tears at Dinner

One evening last week, whilst I was making the evening meal, my mother called me for a conversation on the telephone.

She asked if I was busy, and I said I was making the evening meal, but I could hold the conversation by placing the phone on the worktop near the cooker in loud speaker mode.

As she talked, I made the right noises at intervals, and in truth the things she was telling me, except for an accident that a relative had suffered, I had heard all before.

I was preoccupied, so when there arrived a natural end point to the conversation, I said goodbye and ended the call with her.

A few minutes later, I sat down to the evening meal I had made, with my wife, my daughter and her boyfriend.

As I started to eat, I sat quietly, thinking over what my mother had said to me on the telephone. I had been listening, because I could remember everything she said.

My wife, broke into my quiet reverie and asked me what my mother had called to say.

As I started to speak, I was suddenly, and very surprisingly, absolutely overcome with tears and I could not speak.

There was general concern from those mentioned who were with me, and there was an element of alarm at my upset state.

After a few moments, I was able to compose myself enough to relate what she had told me on the telephone.

My cousin had taken a fall and broken her hip – would I send her a get well card?

Had I enjoyed the family gathering on Saturday Night?

She had enjoyed it, lots of people had spoken to her.

She had told my brother (who’s party it was) how wonderful he was – my tears again start to flow.

She said, “I have had a good life”

The best years were when my children were young and we were poor.

I’ve told your sister, I want “The Road to Emmaus” reading at my funeral.

I thought I was dying at the start of the week, but I think I am better now.

I want to be buried.

I’ve nothing to come back for.

I said to my wife, “I heard what she said, but I wasn’t really listening, but I think she was saying good-bye” – again I was overcome.

She was saying good-bye and I was busy, I wasn’t listening.

My daughter says, “Dad, she is preparing you – she is preparing us all – but I don’t think she was saying good-bye”

I called her later in the evening and she sounded fine. I had been over-wrought.

I didn’t tell her how upset I had been, because it was not as a result of what she had wanted to tell me that caused me to have tears at dinner, it was because I had been detached and unresponsive while she had been saying it, and I had felt ashamed.

Our deaths are inevitable, sometimes we are lucky enough to prepare for them, and prepare those around us, who love us for our passing, but nothing can prepare us, I think for the reality of a death of someone so dear, because grief is the price we pay for love.

My next blog will be: My Foot at a Right Angle

William Defoe






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