Mom again, casually sitting in a crowded cafeteria.
I don't even see her at first. I'm talking to some friends, then excuse myself to use the restroom. As I walk by her, she looks up and smiles, nodding slightly. Trying to think of something to say, I ask, "Is there anything I should know?"
She doesn't say a word--very unusual for Mom--but stands, laboriously unfolding her walker, and hobbles out of the now empty cafeteria. I follow her not even five feet down a hallway. Suddenly we're in a living room.
Not one I recognize, but it seems familiar anyway. The TV--huge and hi-def, but still a Quasar!--is tuned to the latest Fast And The Furious entry, Dad sits in the corner laughing at some of the most outrageous stunts, a stack of empty Grain Belt cans on the shelf beside him. There are children sprawled throughout the room, and I instantly recognize them as my brothers and sisters, but younger than I have ever known them. Some watch the movie in rapt attention, some play, some tussle, but all seem to be having a good time.
In the middle of it all stands Mom, smiling warmly. She doesn't say anything, but I understand.
The ambitions I might have once had in my life never quite materialized. Where's that novel I meant to write, or the next book, or anything substantial? Why don't I live in New York or Seattle or even Minneapolis? Where are all my quick-witted hipster friends?
Turns out, none of that is needed. I romp around the house with my dog while Janie watches Dancing With The Stars, or she'll read some historical romance while I watch Mitchell on Mystery Science Theater 3000 for roughly the five hundredth time. Whatever we're doing, we'll stop now and then to hold each other, to say, "I love you."
Back in the living room, Mom nestles in her chair, perusing her copy of The Murder, She Wrote Companion. She glances at me, says something. The noise level in the room makes it hard to hear, but it sounds very much like, "This is life. Enjoy."