The View from My Mother’s Window

— Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Tonight a woman came to my reading, and waited until the end
of the signing line before approaching me. She got down on one knee,
and said, I knew your mother. We were in a group together. You know what I mean,
And she waited for me to slowly nod, and I did. She knew you.
She knew you. She told me how proud you were of me, how she always
talked about me, how all the women in the group followed the story
of my life as writer, poet, risk-taker, and now this. You were clearly her favorite,
she said. And I thanked her. She said you always teased her at meetings,
because she was so flowery in her descriptions, and you, a gruff Philly
broad would say, Come on, come. A tree is just a tree. A sunset is just a sunset.
Come on.
But she said that at your last meeting, you made an announcement,
and apologized to her, saying you had watched a sunset from your deck,
and saw all the different colors shatter across the water, the glittering stands
of light rippling in every direction. You understood what she meant, finally.
You saw it too. I hugged the woman, signed her book and thanked her
for loving you, for knowing you, for remembering you. I was wearing
the same dress I wore to your funeral. Grey with a black belt, red cardigan,
black stockings and boots. It was an outfit I wore when I toured the previous
fall. You were so proud of me, and I didn’t want to drape myself in mourning
black. I wanted to wear the outfit you last saw me in, the one that made you
so proud, the one that reminded me of the book I would have never written
without you. So I wore that dress to your funeral, and promised myself
I would not hate it afterwards so I could keep wearing it for book events,
like tonight, so I can feel you there with me. When she hugged me, Mom,
I hope you felt it. She loved you. We all did.

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