• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 01

Severing ties

It was the O that did it.
That simple O, pushed askew, symbolised me, after the surreal events of the past month. I had been content, in a complaining sort of way, with my existence. Husband who worked too hard but didn't realise that I did the same. Two kids — teenage, stroppy — with belief systems that put them centre of every stage they moved onto. A good enough house at a good enough address, with neighbours who understood precisely where we sat in the financial hierarchy. I'd been rushing home on Friday, briefcase in one hand, two supermarket bags in the other, checking my Friday night dinner list in my head. Roast chicken, prepare vegetables, set table, prepare for Mum's criticisms...she had never forgiven me for marrying out. I was surprised she deigned to come to us on Friday night — our observance didn't go much beyond Friday and the chicken.
She did arrive, over powdered and over dressed, glittering ostentatiously, a certain sort of wealthy Jewish widow. I definitely took after my father.
Halfway through the chicken she put down her cutlery.
'I have news.' Dramatic pause.
We dutifully stopped eating.
'I'm going to Israel next week. For good.'
Her timing was perfect. We all looked at her, chicken forgotten.
'But Grandma,' the children were first to speak, together.
I found my voice.
'Mum, how? Where? Have you got somewhere to live?'
She waved her hands at me.
'Just be quiet and I'll tell you. I didn't want to say anything until it was arranged, didn't need you interfering.'
Her look preempted any response.
'I've bought a nice apartment in Tel Aviv, and we're flying out together.'


Severing ties

Ignoring the attempted interruptions, she continued.
'I met Samuel a few months ago. He's a widower, a retired solicitor, a good man. He has family in Tel Aviv. We're going to marry next Wednesday, before we fly out.'
Literally, I opened my mouth but no words came out.
'I know it will just be a secular marriage, but it makes everything easier. It's just a piece of paper so we're not having any ceremony. You needn't worry about coming.'
She picked up her knife and fork and finished her chicken. She made it clear that she had nothing more to say.
When she left I made a final attempt.
'Mum, do I get to meet Samuel? Are you sure this is the right thing to do?'
'No dear, there's no point in you meeting him, and yes I'm sure. You might as well consider your parents dead now.'
And that was that.
Until I passed the sign at the end of her road — Dead Peoples Stuff For Sale. With the 'O' in 'for' slipping sideways.