“If we’d grown up now instead of 30 years ago,” Leah said, “We’d probably have been put in foster care.”
“You think so?”
“Yeah. With all her food allergies she acted crazy sometimes. She was out of control.”
“I always thought she was really controlled. She was almost cold when she spanked us.”
“She dragged you by your hair down the hall.”
“I suppose. But that kind of thing didn’t happen very often.” I look at her. “Thank God we grew up 30 years ago!”
“Yeah. Thank God.”
The logs were still there. And I like chopping wood. My dad wielded the chain saw, and Leah stacked the triangles I split off from the rounds Dad made. The ax was heavy, and sometimes the wood was balky, but most of the time it split cleanly, and this time I didn’t get sore afterwards, even though I chopped a lot more. It’s amazing how the body adapts to physical activity. The last time, my left hand ached for three days afterwards, and my back and arms were stiff. This time, nothing.
On the way home, I looked out the window at the unfolding scenery. I thought of how I hadn’t seen the heron in too long, and how I missed it. Leah, Ruth May and I all bought heron prints at a gift store on a tourist trip we took on Sunday. We’ll frame them, a reminder of Mum, but the living heron didn’t come to visit.
“Show yourself, Mum,” I said to myself as I sped down the freeway. Then I looked left, without any real reason to look left, and there was a heron, flying over the car.
May be coincidence. May be the spirit of my mother flying overhead. It doesn’t matter. I know it made me happy.