She was the youngest of 8 kids in a German Mennonite family.
She went to UBC and she teaches grade 4.
We don’t like to talk.
No words come to mind to describe her.
I don’t know what she is.
And I don’t know who she is.
She is not friendly.
She is not pretty,
Although she used to be.
She rarely cooks dinner and deliberately answers the phone in a whispering
croaky voice so people will think they’ve woken her.
She’s not funny,
And she’s not healthy.
Learning details about her life
Is like removing porcupine quills once they’ve already formed hooks inside your skin:
She’s not giving.
She once gave her husband an address book for Christmas, he told me.
They’ve been divorced for 17 years.
I’ve seen her be other things,
Assume other, more likable personalities.
With her friends
When they make her leave her hermit-like existence of devouring half a dozen novels a week.
In her classroom
With the 20-odd children she entertains
5 days a week.
In her high school yearbook
And all the lovesick signatures in its front cover
With my older sister
Who has always had the loud talent of wrenching her open.
No matter how many times we talk and for a moment feel so close
Or how many favours I’ve taken for granted from her
These are the things that stick out
When someone asks me about my mother.
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