Bagels and Cream Cheese
by Adina Teitel Kahn
I arrived at my parents’ apartment at 9:00am that Saturday morning. I rang the bell and immediately heard the poodle’s bark. My mom opened the door and grabbed the bag of bagels from me. She asked if I brought any surprise treats for her.
I brought you an almond horn. I know it’s your favorite.
My mom casually thanked me and inquired if I had brought her any cookies in addition to the almond horn. I sighed and got to work setting the table and slicing bagels. I put the vegetable cream cheese out and my dad comes out to greet me with coffee.
Of course I brought lox, Mom. I know how much you love it.
My parents and I sit down and the poodle assumes her spot under the table waiting for someone to accidentally drop some food. I sneak her little bites of my bagel which she quickly scoops up. I remind my mom that I don’t have much time because I don’t want to be late for my haircut. She informs me that I get too many haircuts.
I really don’t need you to lecture me every single time I schedule a haircut.
My mom smiles her signature toothy grin and proceeds with another lecture. She tells me that once in a while it wouldn’t hurt to listen to my mother. After all, she has been around a while and has learned a few things along the way.
We eat and we talk and as usual there is not a single moment of silence between us. We discuss plotlines from the show Parenthood. We talk about parenthood. About her two little grandkids who love her to pieces. I tell her about teacher conferences, gym classes, blog posts and upcoming holiday shows. She asks me what book she should read next and I tell her that she would like the new Delia Ephron book. She asks me what to get for her Secret Hanukkah person this year. I ask her who she has, and she says she has me.
Finally, even the almond horn is gone.
I really have to go. I don’t want to be late for my haircut.
I say goodbye and shut the door.
Except that I never had the chance to say goodbye. I never got to have that breakfast with my mom. She was already at the hospital that morning. I had been in the hospital room with her all night but never said goodbye because I didn’t think I had to. Not then.
She died that Saturday afternoon. When she passed away I was at her house. Feeding the poodle.
There are so many things I still have to tell her. There was never any silence between us. Now it is painfully quiet. I just want one more chance to tell her everything.
Your four-year-old grandson talks to Clifford when he has something to say to you. He is taking good care of him just like you asked him to.
Your one-year-old grandson seems to only want to play with the toys you got him. It’s like he’s playing with you. Are you there playing with him?
I should have brought you breakfast on Friday morning.
I love you, Mom.