MOM! I thought I heard Anna calling me, but then I decided I was mistaken and kept on going down the ramp from the train platform to the sidewalk.
MOM! WE'RE OVER HERE! I wasn't mistaken at all -- there were my two girls in Corinna's car, come to meet my train. My heart sang briefly, as it always does when I see either one of them, and it sings a little longer when I see them both together.
I handed my heavy suitcase to Anna, who put it in the trunk, and I made for the back seat. No, you sit in front, she said, and I slid gratefully into the front passenger seat. She wore a cute flowered long-sleeved shirt. Corinna was wearing a burgundy sweater. Both wore jeans. How lovely they are, I thought for the millionth time.
We could go for coffee, I said, pushing my luck.
Well, I need to get my things together and take a shower so I can catch the 5:01 back into the city, Anna said. I'm having dinner with Sharon and Michael.
But we can have coffee at my house while Anna takes her shower, Corinna said kindly, and then I'll take you home. Off we drove, and soon I was in my favorite chair in my daughter's house, sipping her good strong coffee. Dancer the dog was happy to see me, and curled up close, shedding handfuls of her fur onto my black shirt.
I could hear the shower running. Anna takes long showers. They are grown women now, but I remember many Sunday afternoons like this: the girls in the car, only I was driving. The girls in the living room, talking, laughing -- only it was my living room. My beautiful girls, now lovely young women.
Not so young any more, Corinna said. October is their birthday month, but I don't think Corinna is having any more birthdays. I always told them to find an age they liked and then stick with it.
But I didn't take my own advice. Couldn't. Time went on, without my permission. It softened all the rough edges of my memories of life together, leaving soft sepia images instead. I hope it softened theirs, too, although I do not know. Every generation emerges into adulthood with a few old scores to settle, and doesn't know peace until it abandons that useless project. We have to leave the past right where it is. Let time flow over it and smooth it out insofar as that is possible, and then hop aboard the boat that sails into the future. We are on our way.