She was at her mother's bedside in the hospital looking at eyes which blinked incomprehensively at one moment and then recognition flickered and she said, "Hi, dear, when did you come in?"
It was that way what with the drugs and the cancer. Mary had gotten used to it and she played along with her mother's renderings of reality-Mary had been there all day.
But she did have her questions to ask especially now when she sensed things were at an end; mother would die, there was little hope and even now she slipped in and out of consciousness. But when awake and talking, Mary noticed that mother was more honest and open than she had ever been. Maybe the drugs made her so. Maybe it was mother's way of making amends, a hospital confession.
But, Mary knew that her own life and her understanding of her own life would not be complete unless she had a better understanding of her mother's life; and that would only come from asking her questions while she was lucid or between her drug treatments.
"Ma," she began, "how did you and dad meet, really?" she said. She had heard the story before, but in the last few weeks her mother had made allusions to how they met which made Mary wonder what the real story was. And now was her opportunity.
"Ma, she repeated, how did you and Dad meet?"
"Oh, that", her mother, Lavinia, slowly opened her eyes staring straight ahead, not looking at her, stirred.
"Oh he was so handsome, There was that spark from the very first, the very first time we laid eyes on one another. He was so handsome, like to take my breath away. I swooned like the young girl I was. And he liked me too, I could tell. He was married, of course, at the time, and I was engaged to someone else. But that was no mind, we knew that we were going to be together no matter what."
Mary was shocked. This was completely different version of the story her mother had told over the years about how they met. She wanted to hear more.
"So, Ma, you and Dad were with someone else when you met?"
Her mother smiled, saying 'Yep, that was the way it was."
She said it as though she was repeating some familiar story often told, not realizing it was completely new to Mary.
"So, did the two of you run away together? Did Dad divorce his wife and you broke off your engagement. Is that the way it happened?" Mary said urgently.
"Oh, sorta," Livinia said, "I broke off my engagement. But your father was triffling and never bothered with no divorce. We just set up housekeeping and you were born, a few months later."
Mary's shock deepened. She caught herself saying to herself, 'Don't jump to conclusions here, Lavinia was taking an awful lot of drugs.'
"We made you together, our little angel. Didn't take no preacher and paper work when two people love one another."
For the first time Lavinia looked at her daughter, sighed and said
"I thought you should know these things now that I will be gone. I be with your Dad soon."
She looked at Mary's face and gave her a sad smile.
"I know these things can be shocking, a little to you. But now you know, and I will tell you anything you want to know."
Mary sat back in her chair realizing she did not know who she was, did not know herself because so much of who she really was lay on that bed.
She determined she would find out as much as her mother was willing to tell.
To be continued.