“How old is he?” my mother asked the next morning.
It was a reasonable question, but coming from her it annoyed me. There was so much else she could ask — did I love him, did he understand me, or what was his passion in life?
We were having coffee, just the two of us, on the sofa. I was still in my nightgown. My sister, Adina, was asleep in her room, and Grandmother was in the kitchen.
“I don’t know,” I answered.
“You don’t know his age?”
“No, not really. He’s forty, maybe forty-one, I’m not sure.”
“That’s twice your age,” my mother said.
The truth was I had a good idea about Jonathan’s age, but he and I had never discussed it explicitly. Every time our conversation skirted the subject, Jonathan found a way of avoiding it. He was skillful at that, and I never confronted him because it didn’t feel right. For my mother, on the other hand, this was the line of attack. Jonathan had been pleasant the night before, polite, very polished. We looked good together, and he was a good-looking man. My mother didn’t ask if he was wealthy; she must have figured out that he was. There was nothing for her to complain about except the obvious thing — his age. Somewhere in her little book of appearances, something didn’t match up.
“Twice my age? Mother, I think you’re doing your math wrong.”
I adjusted a pillow to support my back. As I moved, the Star of David with the small diamonds in each corner sparkled over my nightgown.
My mother leaned toward me. She raised her hand and touched the pendant.
“It’s from Jonathan,” I said.
“I gave you mine when you left. Obviously it wasn’t expensive enough.”
“I still have it,” I said. “I wear them both, on different occasions, and I treasure them equally.”
“You’re wearing his now.”
“I’m with him.”
She gave me the resigned look I recognized from the times she had fought with my father. Then she got up, walked toward Adina’s room, and stopped by the door.
“Mama,” I said, “I came here for you to meet Jonathan. I love him, and I need your blessing. I understand you’re upset over Adina’s college, but this is my day. I’m here. Please, give me this moment. I don’t have anybody else.”
“He’s taking my place,” she said.
This is an excerpt from my latest novel No Portrait in the Gilded Frame (published on Amazon under the pen name Tudor Alexander), illustrating the sometimes painful back and forth between mothers and daughters. Please comment, recommend, and share.