I decided to go into Manhattan to see my mother. Her office recently moved to a new location and she has been spending a good portion of her days settling into her new surroundings. I can picture her now, arranging her furniture and mahogany bookcases, hanging her beloved paintings according to the sketch her interior designer had prepared for her—there is always an interior designer, and unpacking her leather bound books with the accustomed loving care—placing each one in its designated spot on the shelf. As at home, she arranges them in sections: first by the country, then by author, then by title.
When I arrived she was sitting behind her desk. It was early evening and she appeared to be staring at her sofa. There was a calm silence about her. Some have characterized my mother as being cold and uncompromising. I was once told by her partner that ‘your mom is quiet yet absolute in her dealings with her work associates, and a staunch, intimidating figure to her staff. Nevertheless, she is a fair woman of business who conducts herself in a professional manner at all times.’ I remembered every word of what he said because he always spoke so eloquently.
She was startled by my sudden appearance in the doorway.
“Mom, I’m sorry I scared you.” I said hastily, “I should have called.”
“I’m glad you’re here, John. You’re the first to see my new set-up.” She stood up and gave me a hug and a kiss. I felt a slight pounding of my heart as I remembered my dream. I felt close to crying. I did love this woman, but at times I couldn’t stand her. I composed myself.
“Is everything ok?” she sensed something and looked concerned.
“Oh, sure…all is well.” I changed the subject. “I had no idea you were so close to moving.” I looked around now to take in the layout of the office. “I like it a lot.”
I was genuinely pleased to see my mother in a good mood. My eyes caught sight of the sofa. It certainly was nice. If my mom taught me anything it was to appreciate the finer things in life, and we appeared to have the same taste in furniture.
“I had a feeling you would like this. Have a seat."
I sat down and she returned to her desk, which is where she seemed most comfortable, and where I was used to seeing her. On many occasions when I was small, I was thrust upon her during a business day; usually when the housekeeper was off and I was home from school. I was nearly thirteen years old before my mother felt at ease leaving me home alone, and even at that time she would try and coax me into spending the day with her by creating special tasks that only I could handle; telling me ‘you’re the only one I trust to do this, John.’ At first I was pleased that my mother thought so much of my capabilities, but then the realization that the work was boring surfaced and I refused to do any more time.
“What brings you into Manhattan?”
“There’s an old movie playing downtown that I want to see. It starts at eight forty-five, so I really can’t stay. Maybe you’d like to tag along.”
I knew she would not want to go. As a matter of fact she didn’t even ask me what film was playing. She never seemed to have any interest in movies. It was the opera she enjoyed—and ballet.
“No, thank you dear, I have to stay and finish up here. I want to be settled in completely so I can oversee the rest of the move tomorrow, but I would like to have dinner with you one night next week.”
“I think I can get in here next week. How’s Thursday, I’ll meet you at McSorley's at seven.”
I dreaded having diner with my mother. We really didn‘t have a lot in common—not that it’s required by law to have things in common with your mother, but I wished that we had—other than our taste in furniture— a common thread; something to connect us on a permanent basis; something that would prompt the call to arms of ‘did you’ or “mom, guess what?” What would it take to peak her interest. What could I say that would generate a spark and take her away from this business world that she has encased herself in for all these years—even if only for a few minutes.
“Oh, by the way, I’ve met someone.” I blurted out.
I noticed an immediate change in her demeanor. I was right. All it took was the announcement of a possible love interest.
“When did this happen?” There was a definite spark there.
“I met her the other night.” I replied. “She was playing pool with her sister and I joined in. There is nothing much to tell, other than her name is Kathryn and I was very pleased to meet her. We seem to have a lot in common.”
“You met her in a bar?” she asked with unusual inquisitiveness.
“Yes, I did. Is there something wrong with that?” I was slightly irritated at the question.
“No, no, dear. I just thought that…never mind.”
I knew what my mother was going to say and I hated her reasoning on issues of social standing and refinement, that ‘nice girls can be met at church or in the library’. I always wondered about that Church part, since I had not once witnessed her going to Church, yet she would send me off every Sunday with a check for the basket.
“Mother, she’s a nice woman.” I emphasized. “Let us leave it at that.”
“I’m sure she is very nice. I’d like to meet her. You should bring her along to our dinner Thursday evening.”
“Mother, I just met the woman. I haven’t even asked her out on a date. It was just an exchange of phone numbers and a promise to give her a call one of these days.”
I certainly didn’t expect this kind of response. I was intending to contact Kathryn because quite frankly I hadn’t really stopped thinking about her since the other night. Maybe I'll give her a call tomorrow. We'll see.