“I don’t have a daughter in America,” says Mum and with a click the international connection is broken.
Holding my cell phone to my ear, I stand, transfixed for a heartbeat and then I howl.
I’ve lost my mother.
She came into the room where I was tucked into bed, waiting. It looked as if she were floating on a magic carpet, her silky blue sparkly dress swishing along the floor as she moved towards me. I’d begged her to come for a good night kiss before leaving for the ball and she did. She always did.
I sighed with pleasure, because even though she’s always beautiful, she looked like a fairy princess tonight, her hair piled high up on her head, pearls around her neck, and the dress like glittering water all the way down from her shoulders to the floor. It twinkled as she moved and when she sat on the edge of my bed, I saw she’d painted her eyes, her lips and her nails.
“Goodnight, Noony darling,” she whispered in my ear, “sleep tight,” she kisseed me on the right cheek leaving behind that never-to-be-forgotten imprint of Madame Rocha’s perfume.
“Night, night, Mummy. You look beautiful,” I whispered back, somewhat timid because tomboys weren't supposed to notice nice clothes and things, “You look like a fairy,” I said touching the dress then the sparkling bracelet on her wrist.
She smiled, but before she could reply, Daddy walked in, her knight in shining armor, magnificent in a tuxedo with a blue bowtie.
“Are we ready, darling? It’s getting late.”
He held out his hand to her, her dashing blue-eyed knight, blew me a kiss and in a swirl of silk and perfume, they were gone.
I wipe my tears and blow my nose. I know it’s too early to be crying like this. After all, it’s 2008 and Mum’s only just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year ago. I call back and Dad picks up.
“Wazzup, Noony?” he teases.
“Hi, Dad. I called five minutes ago and Mum didn’t recognize me,” I say to the knight in shining armor, perhaps using that little girl voice again.
“Oh, was that you? She didn’t have Fred in, so she couldn’t hear.”
Relief washes over me like a warm blanket. Fred, her hearing aid, was to blame for the misunderstanding and all was right with the world again.
Because, forty years on, she may not be wearing the twinkling blue dress anymore, but she’s still my Mummy and I’m not ready to miss her yet.