Well, there goes Mama. My Mama. Riding her little commuter bike toward the harbor, dressed in a loose, red muumuu, old gray house slippers, her butt hanging wide over the seat.
Does she care about herself anymore? Our conversation on the park bench didn’t give me many clues before she took off on her ride.
When a drunk driver killed my sister and business partner Carly Dee over a year ago, Mama let it all hang loose. She quit her executive job at the bank and filed for early Social Security.
“You’re making big decisions in your grief, Mama.”
“Life’s short, son. Gotta live life to the fullest.”
She let her shoulder-length, copper-tinted hair grow out to a shiny silver. LaToya, her stylist, cropped it almost man-short.
“Mama, are you cutting Carly Dee out of your life?”
“Never, son. I’m just not the Mama I used to be. I’m different, now.”
She moved to Florida nine months ago from our affluent northern Virginia town, where Carly Dee and I had practiced law together. Mama planted an organic vegetable garden in her new home’s backyard and started raising urban chickens.
“You used to fret, Mama, if you broke a French-manicured fingernail.”
“That’s not important anymore, son.”
Now she digs her fingers deep into the composted soil and pulls weeds, yanking them as if they were painful memories.
I sit on the park bench and watch Mama ride away. I loosen the silk tie I bought in London, haunted by our conversation a few moments ago.
“Mama, do I still matter to you?”
“Oh, son, don’t talk like that. I’m just different, now.”
There goes my Mama, in her red muumuu, pedaling her little bike toward the harbor.
She doesn’t care about her old life anymore.
Jenise Cook lives in northern Arizona, where it snows, with her fine artist husband. Jenise writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her works have been published in various journals. For a complete list of her works, visit her site: Jenise Cook.