In common with Bach's variations, the final variation is a reprise of the opening piece. The below is a variation on An Unbroken Chain.
I am indebted to Laura Eno for the idea of these variations as a kaleidoscope. The image, from fotolia.com, is one I'm considering as a cover.
"It sounds like a dirge."
"Mom," I said, laughing. "It's not a dirge. It's a fugue."
I saw her shrug her shoulders. I glanced at the phone, and smiled.
"Gotta take this, Mom. It's Jenna."
She waved her hand, turning slightly away. I answered the call.
Her voice, answering, was warm. I noticed Mom watching, walking along the aisle in the store, but watching, listening.
"Miss you too," I said. "But I'll be back soon."
My heart sank to my boots and I shook my head slightly.
"No, not. Not yet. You know how it is, trying to find the right time. I want to get this right."
I could see Mom glancing back at me. I waved and half-turned away.
"I will, Jenna. I will. No, I know you're not trying to rush me. It's just...it's just hard, you know?"
I nodded my head to her reply. "Yeah, I know. It wasn't easy for you either. But there's all your family. Mom's just got me."
Jenna's reply made me laugh. "Two daughters?" I laughed again. "Yes, I suppose she'd like that."
I turned serious. "I don't suppose it's ever easy, is it? This has gone on in families forever, all back through history."
I turned to look at Mom. She was examining a shawl on a mannequin. Suddenly I felt a great gulf between us. More than the distance when I was back at college. More than the years between us.
Janna's voice was in my ear, soothing. She could tell, even from so far away, how I was feeling.
"I'll tell her," I said. "Today. It'll be OK. I know it will."
I smiled as I saw Mom draw the shawl around her. She threw one end of it over her shoulder. I recognized the dramatic gesture. Jenna had commented more than once on my doing it.
I smiled into the phone. "Love you too. Talk to you later, OK?"
I hung up and turned to Mom.
"That looks perfect on you, Mom."
She smiled at me as she came to me, this woman who'd given birth to me, who knew so much about me.
"Ruth," she said, taking my face in her hands. "We Goldbergs come from a long line of strong women. I am so proud of you."
We linked arms.
"Now," she said, looking at me with an appraising eye. "Tell me about this Jenna who is so dear to you."
I looked at her, a question clear on my face.
She nodded and patted my arm.