Saturday, July 03, 2010

An Unbroken Chain

"It sounds like a dirge," I said.

My Ruth, she laughed at me, reaching for her phone.

"It's not a dirge, Mom," she said, "it's a fugue."

She glanced at the phone. "Oh, it's Jenna. I've gotta take this. You mind?"

I shook my head. "No, no. You go ahead."

She had answered already, turning slightly away from me.

"When did you get so grown up?" I asked silently. There she was, so much a grown woman, dark hair swept back from darker eyes. Face alive as she talked with her college friend.

I caught a glimpse of myself in a store mirror. "When did you get so old?" I swept my hand through my own dark hair. I didn't look closer. I already knew where the gray was hiding.

Ruth chatted on. I listened, more to the sounds than the words. You hear more that way. Warm tones. They were close, this Jenna and my Ruth. Making plans for when she returned after the break.

I stepped away, from Ruth, from the mirror. I didn't want either of us to see the expression I could feel on my face. I hoped this Jenna didn't give Ruth any ideas.

I laughed quietly. "Ideas? You think you could prevent her having ideas?"

I could hear my own Mother's voice in my head. Probably as she heard her own in hers. And all the way back, daughter to mother, back to Eve herself.

I looked back at my Ruth's bright, quick face. Her free hand moved as she talked, eyes alive with intelligence and fun.

I fingered a shawl draped over a mannequin's shoulder. A widow's shawl. I nodded.

"Perfect for me." I pulled it off the mannequin and slipped it over my shoulders.

"Bye Jenna," I heard as Ruth finished her call. She turned to me just as I drew myself up and I threw the right end of the shawl dramatically over my left shoulder.

"Oh Mom," she said. "That's perfect for you."

I smiled, took her face in my hands and kissed her forehead. She looked at me, her eyes seeking mine.

"We Goldbergs come from a long line of strong women, Ruth. I cannot put into words how proud of you I am."

I patted her arm as I linked it in mine. "Now, we must buy something special for when you return to your friend Jenna."

With these words I set my daughter on her way to her future.


  1. The personality and emotion in your character is so clear and real. This was really lovely. I read through some of your other posts and quite enjoyed your voice, it's very candid and genuine.

  2. You give a wealth of information here in a word, a touch, a glance - even their different perspectives on the shawl. A most wonderful piece, Kevin.

  3. What a wonderful voice of a kind woman and mother! I agree with Laura, wonderful piece. :)

  4. An unbroken chain, indeed. You've managed to capture the strength and unconditional love of a mother learning to let go. Bravo!

  5. I liked this, Kevin. The interplay between the mother and daughter was wonderfully well done. It has just a hint of sadness in it. Must of been a bit of a hurt when her daughter echoed her own words - that's perfect for you. It's one thing for us to see ourselves in a certain light. Quite another when someone else does. Yet the love between these two shines through. She's a lucky woman. She's a lucky girl.

  6. I enjoy your pieces so much, Kevin. This is so full of heart and nuance. You're a poet. Beautiful story.

  7. @Pamila Thank you so much for your comment. I'm glad you liked the story, and my other posts. I've been told that my non-fiction "voice" is the one that most resembles me. I'm glad you like it.

    @Laura I tried to be economical in descriptions, just enough to let the reader take over. Glad to hear I'm hitting that from time to time.

    @Mari Thank you. Glad you enjoyed

    @Shannon *takes a shy bow* Glad the tension for the older Goldberg came through. Letting go isn't easy.

    @Jon I'm hoping to write funny someday. Right now "sad" creeps in more often than not. Nothing to do with my personal life, just the stories that surface. Glad you liked this.

    @Gracie "You're a poet." And you, Gracie, are way too kind. I am very glad you enjoy what I write.

  8. Amazing. You captured the connection between mother and daughter as well as the generation gap in so few words. Much is left up to the reader and I suppose someone with a Jewish background might read more into this and the significance of the shawl. Comparing the dirge vs the fugue and then the different perspectives on her independence was clever as well. I think this is a deeper piece than the superficial story.

  9. Kevin, I like the way you write. This one was like sitting in the kitchen with a couple of my favourite women. It was relaxing and gentle and strong, all at the same time. You are a sensitive guy, my friend!

  10. Well-rounded story about the mother-daughter chain, and how it continues down the ages. I like the framing with the slams, the music. You captured a universal truth here -- we become our mothers once we become a mother. Great piece -- you do girl good! Peace...