Daffodils

© Marlyn Silverstone

 

In the ’70s, they built condominiums at the edge of town, red brick three-storey buildings each neatly encased in a rectangle of green lawn. And around the borders of these lawns they planted daffodils.

         Daffodils abound in this suburb, dominating not only the land around the condos but also the gardens of the older grey stone houses. Bright yellow patches are everywhere you look, declaring the arrival of spring, asserting themselves triumphantly in the pale misty air. Here in Scotland, the air is always dewy.

         The people who live in this suburb, like their neighbors who live closer to the city, are very much aware of the daffodils. Generations were reared on “a host of golden daffodils,” a phrase that parents repeated so often that when the time came in school to memorize Wordsworth’s poem, we all recognized it. “Oh, look,” my brother Humphrey will say to his three-year-old son, “See the flowers. The daffodils. The host of golden... ” And Wee Franky will delight his father by completing the phrase in his Scottish accent. “Daffodils, Daddy. Nice wee lovely daffodils.”

         My mother is watching them from her ground floor condo, from the kitchen window that looks out onto the green patch in front. Of course she can’t hear what they’re saying but she’s annoyed that they’re out there chatting when they should be here in the house with her. What’s the point, she thinks, of their coming to visit if they take off the minute they step in the door? What kind of a visit is that? It’s bloody rubbish, that’s what it is. They should be sitting with her watching the teli, the nice big twenty-four-inch teli, in the living room with the curtains closed to keep the light off the screen. Her favorite show, The Price is Right, is on. They should be watching it with her and eating Cadbury’s chocolate biscuits, that’s what they should be doing. She’s not going out there, that’s for sure, even if Humphrey were to ask her a hundred more times. She’s not interested in the bloomin’ fresh air. And going out would mean getting dressed. For god’s sake, what do they want of her life?

         My mother is wearing the well worn blue flannel dressing gown that she always wears at home. She receives us in it every Sunday afternoon. She reckons that it’s a waste of energy to get dressed if you’re not going out and she doesn’t go out much. When she does, it’s usually to walk to the local shops to buy groceries that she has delivered. For such an excursion, she’ll wear her older, drabber clothes. Her wardrobes are stuffed with “good” clothes, smart suits and coats in fine wool and elegant dresses that she used to wear when my father was alive and they went to restaurants or to the pictures, as the cinema is still called in Scotland. She loved to be admired and told how well she looked. Now that she stays home, the old blue dressing gown has become her body blanket, like a baby’s comforter. On those rare occasions when we take her for a drive to the seashore, or to a family dinner, she can still astonish us by her elegance. I’m convinced that in her youth, she was something of a siren. You only have to look at old photos of her on the beach, my smiling mother in a clinging knee-length swimsuit, posing with one hand  placed on a jauntily raised hip and framed by group of young cavaliers. There you see her in her element.

         Reflecting on the injustice of it all, Ma goes into the living room and plops herself down on the big leather couch. She has already brought her tray to the coffee table that stands between her and the TV. On the tray, there is a pot of tea in a knitted pink tea cozy, a jug of milk and a plate of Cadbury’s orange cream biscuits. She pours her tea into a large china mug all the while watching her programme. But she can’t concentrate on it totally because she’s so angry at Humphrey. What kind of a son is he, her youngest child, who instead of sitting with his old mother is outside conversing with an infant? Oh, it’s not the baby’s fault, but that kid will be spoilt rotten. It’ll come back to haunt them, that’s for sure. She has a good mind to tell Humphrey not to bother coming over on Sundays if this is the way he’s going to behave... Until eventually, lulled by her tea and biscuits, my mother gets engrossed in her show so that she is reluctant to get up to open the door when my sister and I arrive.

         We know the routine, Grace and I. We know this salutation: “Girls, come on in and watch this. They’ve got fabulous prizes today.” We take off out jackets and scarves, hang them in the hall closet and make our way to the living room where we take our usual seats facing the TV. “Want a cup of tea, girls? Ava, bring the cups from the kitchen. I just want to watch the end of the show,” she says, her eyes all the while on the screen. We know better than to interrupt her small pleasures.

         Before television, it was the pictures. My mother, as a young woman, loved the cinema and cinema actors. That’s why she called me, her firstborn, Ava Lauren, and my sister Grace. Our little brother, her baby, is Humphrey, named after her greatest passion. Ma didn’t simply go to the pictures. She devoured every bit of information about films and about her favorite stars and we grew up with their stories. Humphrey Bogart’s marriage to Lauren Bacall, his fourth wife, in 1945, was a seminal event in my mother’s life. We, her children, were reared on all the details of his divorces and their courtship. You might call it our cultural heritage.

         In her later years, especially since my father’s death, television has replaced the cinema as mother’s main interest and instead of movie stars, she focuses her attention on the people she sees on TV. “Y’see that gorgeous blonde,” she’ll tell you. “Her real name is Carla Milligan. She’s related to the Milligans, the car people. Well, she’s shacked up with Uncle Henry’s cousin’s nephew, one of the Rosenthals, the wealthy ones. Uncle Henry told me.” And she smiles triumphant, our proud purveyor of information.

         Ma doesn’t seem to realize that her children don’t get the same thrill at receiving these snatches of prurient information as she gets in delivering them. If we don’t respond with the required degree of interest, she’ll simply keep on repeating herself until she gets the desired reaction. And in conveying to us misdemeanors of people with whom we have no connection, our mother illustrates to us her standards of acceptable and unacceptable conduct.

         I remember the day when Grace, already in her thirties and divorced for several years, told my mother that she was going to Paris with her boyfriend. Dreading Ma’s reaction, I had pleaded with my sister not to disclose this information. “Just say you’re going with some friends,” I urged her. “No,” said Grace, who is the pretty one and has always been my mother’s favorite. “I’m sick of all of the deception that goes on in this family.” I held my breath that afternoon when there, in front of the TV. my sister announced casually, “I won’t be here next Sunday, Ma. Fred and I are going to Paris for the weekend.” “That should be exciting,” replied my mother. “Why don’t you bring me along? I could share your room, Grace.”

         Thus my mother obviated any confrontation with her preferred daughter and stated clearly her expectation that no daughter of hers would ever share a room with a man to whom she wasn’t married. It was a pretty neat maneuver and a fulfillment of her obligation to enforce the code of sexual conduct imposed on us, her daughters, unilaterally and for all eternity. The mention of Paris, however, gave her the opportunity to dish up some gossip. “D’you know who went to Paris last week?” she continues, without missing a beat. “I was really shocked when Uncle Henry told me. You must remember my old neighbor, Doris. Her daughter, the divorced one, works for a telemarketing company that has its headquarters in Paris. Doris’s daughter is just a typist, not long in the firm. But she’s good looking, and she knows it. Well listen to this, will you? The big boss chose Doris’s daughter to go with him to Paris for the week, as his personal assistant. All expenses paid of course, in some five-star hotel. Not to mention that the boss is married. Evelyn, the daughter, just dumped her kids on her mother and took off. Poor Doris. Can’t be easy at her age taking care of those kids. And I heard that the boy’s not normal.”

         It seems that for my mother events in the lives of strangers are much more relevant than what’s happening in the lives of her children. Even characters in her TV soaps claim her attention more than her family does. When my father was alive, this wasn’t quite so obvious because caring for him was an important part of her repertoire. Frank, my father, was diabetic and very fat, but he was her man even when she was kneeling on the floor beside the marital bed that he sat on, to put socks on him. Catering to his every whim as he grew fatter and more infantile seemed to be a sacred duty to my mother, carved in stone like her code of sexual propriety.

         I used to call my father Francis, and then Franciscan and then The Monk, anything except Dad. That word, applied to him, just stuck in my craw. He liked it when I called him The Monk and found it so amusing that he began to refer to himself in this way. “The Monk wants some milk in his tea,” he would say, or “The Monk would like to see the sports channel,” and he would laugh with glee as though he had said something tremendously funny. Old King Cole was a merry old soul and so was my father. Actually he didn’t make it to ripe old age. He died at the age of sixty-seven, his kidneys having succumbed to the enormity of his food intake. That and the diabetes killed him. As our family physician so succinctly put it, my father dug his grave with his teeth.

         Wee Franky, Humphrey’s son, was named after my father and this despite my mother’s protests that within the annals of the family, that hallowed name be confined to her dearly beloved. It was a rare occasion when Humphrey had insisted and got his way. When the Monk died, two years before Wee Franky was born, Humphrey was still living at home with my parents and working in my father’s business. He had dropped out of university having spent four years not fulfilling academic requirements. He could have completed his degree if he had applied himself; it was not the intelligence that he lacked but the will. After university, he drifted for a few years from one unskilled job to another. Then my fusty old uncle, who helped my father in the business, finally retired to nurse his ailing heart, and Humphrey stepped in. As my father became progressively weaker, Humphrey assumed the running of the business, and he did it so competently that we were all amazed. A big, clumsy man with a smooth round boyish face, there was an unmanly softness about him. He had evolved from being a sweet and loving infant, whom we, his sisters, adored, into a man-sized infant, kind, considerate and totally unassertive.

         In the last years of my father’s life, Humphrey not only ran the business but took care of my parents as well. He drove them to my father’s endless appointments with physicians, ran errands and sat with my mother for interminable hours while she bemoaned the condition of her beloved. I used to drop by in the evening on my way home from work and find the two of them in the kitchen. “Have a little soup, Ma,” says Humphrey. “It will do you good.” “Oh,” wails my mother, “if only your father would take some. He’s eaten nothing today. Oh, Ava,” she addresses me, “your father’s not well at all. His left foot is starting to turn blue. Around his toes.” And Humphrey comforts her. “He’ll get better, Ma. You’ll see. Tomorrow we’ll bring him to the doctor.”

         I never thought that Humphrey would make it out of that house, out of my mother’s domain, to create a home and a family of his own. The day we came home from my father’s funeral, the house full of visitors, I watched my mother rummaging in the closet in the hall, oblivious to all that was happening around her. She found what she was looking for: a fine burgundy lamb’s wool sweater that had belonged to my father. “Here,” she handed it to Humphrey. “You can wear this now. Try it on.” And Humphrey did.

         Ask me if I believe in miracles and I’ll tell you that Wee Franky is my miracle. If you had asked me when Franky was born if I believed in god, I’d have said that I don’t know but that whenever I think about him, I thank him for the family that that he gave my brother.

…………………..

         I go into the kitchen to fetch mugs for Grace and myself, and I pause at the window to look out. Humphrey and Wee Franky are kicking a ball back and forth on the grass. Humphrey makes sure that the ball arrives at Franky’s feet and covers the short distance to the spot to which Franky has kicked the ball with exaggerated effort. The tenderness and respect with which Humphrey treats his son are evident in his every gesture. As I’m watching, Franky runs towards his father who squats down in time to catch him under his arms, lift him high in the air and swing him round and around. Franky is howling with delight, and Humphrey looks as though there’s nothing in the world he’d rather be doing. Then Humphrey catches sight of me at the window and points me out to Franky whom he’s still holding in his arms. Franky is nestling against his father, cheek to cheek, with his arms firmly clasped around Humphrey’s neck. I can read Humphrey’s lips. He’s saying, “There’s Auntie Yeva,” because that’s what Wee Franky calls me.

         I linger at the window, aching to hold my little nephew and to feel the softness of his cheek against mine and I reflect on how different it all might have been.

         Humphrey met Bella, his wife, when she came to work in my father’s coin and stamp business, McLaren & Son, Numismatists. The stamp trade was Humphrey’s addition. When my father got too sick to go to the shop, an assistant was needed to do the bookkeeping and to mind the business when Humphrey was out at an auction or at a private sale, and Bella was hired. She had just finished a college diploma in accounting and her father, Arthur, had known my father since they were boys. My father made the arrangements with Arthur one evening, at his bedside, when Arthur came to visit his ailing crony, and the next day Bella showed up for work. Humphrey was informed but not consulted. That was the way things were done in my family.

         Humphrey and Bella hit it off right away, but we only learned that later. She was twenty one years old then, pretty, plump and vivacious. Humphrey is eight years older than her. He was always timid around young women and he never went out on dates. He must have felt at ease with sweet young Bella, who has a sunny disposition and puts people at their ease. But nobody would have guessed that their relationship went anywhere beyond work. Grace and I did notice that after Bella came to work in the shop, Humphrey dressed more carefully and shaved more often and even got a subscription to the gym so that he could “get into shape.” This he did despite my mother’s discouragement. “It’s a waste of money,” she told Humphrey. “You won’t go. I know you. You’re not the type, and anyway, you’ll be too tired after work.” Grace and I thought the changes in Humphrey were a reflection of his greater self confidence. He was now running a business that was clearly prospering since he’d taken it over.

         So for two years, while Bella worked in the shop, Grace and I never dreamed that there was anything between her and Humphrey. One raw afternoon in January, less than a year after Bella had entered the business, I happened to be in the area and without forewarning, I passed by to say hello. The shop is located in a tenement building in an old part of the city, so old that it was recently declared a historic site, and although the building has been upgraded, Humphrey chose to maintain some charms of earlier days. Tourists enjoy that sort of thing. There’s still a brass bell that clanged when I opened the door. Humphrey came from the back of the shop to greet me. “Ava, what a lovely surprise. Come on in to the back. We’re just having a cup of tea. Let me take your coat.”

         Humphrey led me to the room at the back of the shop that served as an office, kitchen and sitting room when there were no customers to serve. It was there that the bookkeeping had been done and lunch eaten when my father was running the business. I noticed immediately that the place had undergone a transformation. In my father’s day,  it was a dreary dusty room with an unwashed window. Now the first thing I noticed was a clean window with a vertical blind, raised to let in the little bit of light that you got in the afternoon. Everything in the room was clean now, dust-free and polished, and though the furniture was the same  a table, a couch and a big old-fashioned desk  it had all been rearranged. The stove and fridge were in a recess where they were less visible, and an area rug and a few adornments had been added. A thriving rubber plant sat on top of the desk, and there were a couple of laminated posters of trade shows on the wall. In my father’s day they had used an electric heater, but now the old gas fire in the fireplace was reinstated and it made the room cozy. Altogether it was a haven from the dark, dank, cold street.

         “Hello, Bella. Good to see you again.” I’d only met her once before. “Goodness, it’s really lovely here. I can hardly believe it. This used to be a dump.”

         “Bella did it,” said Humphrey. “She did a marvelous job.”

         “Don’t give me all the credit,” said Bella, getting up to greet me. “Humphrey is too modest. We worked on it together. And it was your idea, Humphrey, to restore the gas fire. We got someone from the gas board to come and sort it. Makes all the difference. Come and sit at the table, Ava. We were just having our tea. It’s so nice that you came by. Can I toast you a scone?”

         I was delighted to find such comfort in my brother’s workplace and to observe that he

and Bella got along so well. They seemed perfectly relaxed and contented with each other, in this little home away from home. Humphrey told me that Bella brought him lunches that she’d cooked at home. “She’s a terrific cook,” said Humphrey. “That’s so nice of you, Bella,”I said, “way beyond the call of duty.” “No problem,” said Bella in the idiom of her generation. “I enjoy cooking. And it’s good to keep the boss happy.” She glanced at Humphrey and they both smiled. Then she smiled at me, a beam that went straight to my heart.

         Still, there was no indication of a courtship until two years after Bella had entered the business, and a year after my father’s death. My mother phoned me at work one morning. “What d’you think of this?” says my mother, as soon as I pick up the phone. “Your brother’s taking Bella out tonight for dinner. For her birthday. “ I could hear the outrage in my mother’s short breaths and could imagine her nostrils flaring in disapproval. But I chose to ignore the subtext. “Well that’s very nice,” I said. “ Bella’s a lovely girl.” “Lovely, my eye,” says my mother. “She’s a dumb little thing. She never even went to the university. I don’t think she got in.”

         “She’s always done a good job in the shop,” I respond. “You even said so yourself. Anyway they’re only going out for dinner. What’s the big deal?”

         “The big deal is that she’s after him,” says my mother. “that scheming little bitch, excuse the language. And she’s far too young. I should have insisted that he get rid of her a long time ago.”

         Humphrey and Bella must have decided that it was time to make their relationship public. Soon afterwards we learned why. There had never been a mention of their meeting outside work till that morning when Humphrey told my mother he’d be home late. She said she supposed he was going to the gym. “Not tonight, Ma.” said Humphrey. “Tonight I’m taking Bella to Ferrari’s. It’s her birthday.” Dumbfounded, my mother had asked him if that wasn’t a bit excessive, Ferrari’s being a very upscale restaurant. Humphrey had replied in his usual gentle way, “I don’t think so, Ma. Bella deserves the best.”

         When I finally managed to get my mother off the phone by telling her I absolutely must get to the work on my desk, I phoned Grace to tell her the good news. She was as delighted as I. Our little brother was getting a life. Then I phoned Bella at the shop to wish her a happy birthday.

 

 

         Three months later, Bella and Humphrey got married. A month after their dinner at Ferrari’s, a month during which they had made their courtship public, they announced their engagement and Bella’s pregnancy. They got married when Bella was in her fifth month. It was a small wedding in a church, with a modest dinner for family and friends. Bella wore a loose-fitting white silk dress with a jacket. She had that glow that you sometimes see in pregnant women and she looked quite lovely. My mother said that she could have worn a regular wedding dress. “Nobody would have noticed,” said my mother. “She’s always had a big belly.”

         We were relieved that Ma agreed to attend the wedding, even while protesting that Bella was a slut who had trapped her son into marriage. She would make the great sacrifice for Humphrey’s sake, because that’s what a mother had to do even though Bella was lazy, fat and stupid and in no way a suitable match for her son. In the months preceding the wedding, Grace and I were regaled with this tirade whenever we spoke to my mother. Humphrey must have heard it more than us because he was still living at home. He tolerated it with a forbearance that was hard for me to understand. I could easily have smothered the old cow with a pillow. Anything to get her to shut up. I couldn’t bear the way she chipped away at my brother’s joy. But I kept quiet because I wanted her to attend the wedding. I knew that that was important to Humphrey. And I knew that he had to learn to defend himself. I tried by all kinds of devious means to ensure that Bella saw my mother rarely If she ever came to visit, I had Peter, my husband, there to lavish his attention on my mother. Ma liked male attention, and Peter was very obliging in that way. He’d get her talking about Coronation Street, and she’d forget to be nasty. Bella knew that though her future mother-in-law might be “a bit difficult,” she got on extremely well with the rest of the family.

         When Bella described to Grace and me how she and Humphrey got romantically involved, she had us in laughter and in tears. “I knew he fancied me, ” she said. “You can always feel that sort of thing, can’t you? And I was smitten. I really was. He’s such a good person. But he didn’t say a word. Days and weeks and months went by. On the surface everything was fine. We worked really well together, and we even fixed up the back room. Once he took me to Fraser’s for lunch. He was a very, very nice boss. But I was climbing the walls, going daft, as you can well imagine. So you know what I did?” continued Bella. “I gave him a Valentine’s card. But not on Valentine’s Day. It was in September, actually, not last September but the one before It was a card I came across at home that gave me the idea, a card that my sister Maria had bought and decided not to send. And you know what I wrote on it? ‘The person who receives this card can claim a hug and a kiss from the person who sent it. Love from Bella.’ I know it was very bold of me, but I reckoned I had to do something or quit the job. I put the card in an envelope with his name on it on the table where he always sits to go through the mail and do the inventory. I knew he couldn’t miss it. That morning when he got in, I stayed in the front, tidying the cabinets. After he read the card, he just came to the front and put his arms around me. And the rest,” said Bella, pursing up her face in an impish grin, “the rest is history.”

         Desdemona, I thought, could not have wooed Othello more sweetly.

         It was Humphrey, said Bella, who had wanted to keep their affair private. “Your father had just died, and Humphrey said your mother needed time to adjust to that. I didn’t really mind because we had lots of time together and maybe because our love was a secret, it was that more special. We knew we’d be getting married eventually. We did meet sometimes in the evening when Humphrey was supposed to be at the gym. I know it was a white lie, but he didn’t want to upset your mother, and that was very considerate of him.” It seemed to me, in all the conversations that we had, that Bella was realistic in her perception of Humphrey. “He’ll be a wonderful husband and a wonderful father,” she said. Or, “He’ll always provide for his family.” Or, “He’s so gentle. It’s easy to get along with him.” Humphrey was not her bold knight in shining armor. Bella loved him for who he was.

         There was nothing my mother could do to stop the marriage or to put a damper on the wedding party’s spirits. Bella’s parents liked Humphrey, and if they didn’t quite approve of the speed of the nuptials, they didn’t say a word. Maria was to be the best maid, Grace’s daughters the bridesmaids, and Peter a delighted best man. As the day of the wedding approached, the young couple seemed to be in a state of bliss. Humphrey and I had a chance to be alone one day when I went to see the apartment they had rented. “I can’t get over it,” he confided in me. “I’m going to have a wife and I’m going to be a father. Me, Humphrey McLaren, the lad from Langside Drive. I’m so happy I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it.”

…………………..

         Bella hasn’t come to visit this Sunday. She rarely does. After the wedding, my mother continued to treat her as an interloper whom she could insult with impunity. “You won’t be wanting a piece of my birthday cake, Bella,” she might say. “You must be trying to take off those extra pounds.” Bella would look askance, and Humphrey would act as though he hadn’t heard the remark. “Ava, darling, there’s nothing you can do,” Peter used to say when I came home in distress. “Your mother won’t change and they’re going to have to deal with it. They are adults after all.” Even if Peter was drunk, which he usually was on Sundays, I knew that he was right. I was glad when Bella stopped her weekly visit.

         But Grace and I and Humphrey, with Wee Franky in tow, continued to come every Sunday.  I had hoped that when my mother got closer to Franky, she might feel kindlier towards his mother. But Ma displayed little interest in her grandson and seemed to resent Humphrey’s devotion to him. “Can’t you talk about anything else but that child?” she asked Humphrey. “You don’t even ask how I’m keeping today. Life’s so lonely for me now that you’re all gone.” For my mother, Franky was Bella’s boy, and Ma wasn’t interested in him.

         I leave the kitchen window and bring the mugs back to the living room. Grace and my mother are watching High Sierra. “That’s Ida Lupino,” says my mother. “She was married three times. I wonder if Bogie ever fancied her. She’s a great actress. Y’know she became a director.” Ma is in her element. We’re not allowed to speak except to ask questions or to show interest in her remarks. I pour tea for Grace and me and refill my mother’s cup. We watch in silence.

         As the film is ending, Wee Franky, rosy cheeked, comes skipping and running into the living room followed by Humphrey. Franky is clearly quite excited and he’s holding something behind his back. “Ah got something for ye, Granma,” he tells her. “ A surprise.” “Oh yes,” says my mother, her eyes still riveted on her TV screen. “What have you got me?” “A daffodil,” says Franky, “a wee daffodil for you, Granma.”

         Abruptly my mother switches off the TV with her controller and turns to stare at Franky. “What’s this?” she says, pointing at the wilted flower in the child’s hand. “You can’t be giving me this. The daffodil doesn’t belong to you. It’s not yours to give. It belongs to the condominium, to the building.” She addresses Humphrey. “I can’t believe it. You’re teaching him to steal. I could believe it of his mother, but not you. Franky, you can keep your daffodil. Your Grandma doesn’t want a stolen daffodil.”

         My mother is speaking loud and angrily, and Franky stares at her, his eyes wide open and filling with tears, his mouth gaping. She is about to continue her diatribe but I won’t let her. “Stop it,” I say. “Stop this ugly talk.” I have risen from my chair and am standing facing her, looking her straight in the eye. “Is that what you want, Ma?” I ask. I point at Franky, who’s crying now. I myself am trembling. “Is that what you want?” I repeat. “You want to torment a three-year-old child for bringing you a flower? Shame on you! You should be ashamed of yourself, you nasty cruel woman.” Humphrey picks up Wee Franky and holds him in his arms. “It’s okay, son,” he says. “It’s okay. You’re a good boy. We didn’t pick the daffodil, Ma. It had fallen to the ground. Franky found it on the ground. It’s okay, sweetheart. You’re a good boy, Franky.”

         I’m outta here, can’t be here, can’t be responsible for what I’ll say to that miserable bitch. At least I got her to shut up. God I’d like to smack that smug face, tell the old witch what I really think of her. But I can’t, not in front of Wee Franky.

         I go to the cupboard in the hall to get my jacket but I’m still inside that living room. I listen. Franky is calming down now, his sobs gentler and at longer intervals. I hear my mother: “I don’t know what gets into Ava sometimes. She’s so highly strung. Good thing she doesn’t have children. I made a mistake, that’s all. Anyone can make a mistake. I only wanted to teach the child right from wrong.” Then Humphrey says, “Don’t upset yourself, Ma. She’ll get over it. She has a bit of a temper but it doesn’t last for long.” “It’s just a storm in a teacup, Ma,” says Grace. “Happens in all families. She’ll be here next Sunday. You’ll see. She’ll be sorry for what she said.”

         “I hope so,” says my mother. “You know I hate arguments. Okay, okay, wee Frankie. You don’t need to cry. Grace, there’s a glass vase on the kitchen table. Fill it with water and bring it here, will you. We’ll put your daffodil in water, Frankie.”

         Then I’m outside, breathing the fresh air.

 

 

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