I visited my daughter last weekend. I hadn’t laid eyes on her in more than two years. I entered the small bookstore where she works, unnoticed.
Once she’d helped another customer, I approached. She smiled, and asked, “May I help you?”
“Do you have Paul Sheldon’s latest novel?’
She stared at me for a full second, then wrapped her eyes around me and turned to her co-worker, who’d seen me point towards her when I came through the door, as I pressed my index finger to my lips.
“This is my mom!”
Her eyes narrowed. “Was that a lame ‘Misery’ joke?”
I nodded. “Sorry.”
An author was reading in the adjoining room, so we descended to the lower level, where she showed me her favorite section of used books and the shelves of advanced reader’s copies they’d received from publishers.
* * *
The last afternoon of my visit, after sharing several memorable meals, including an enormous vegetarian feast for two at an Ethiopian restaurant, brunch in a greenhouse where all the ingredients were grown a few steps from the kitchen, a picnic before an outdoor performance of “Into the Woods,” a roasted vegetable tart we ate on the balcony before a stroll through the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden, we settled down with a kitten and coloring books.
“Adult coloring books are trendy, now,” she said, passing me the sleeve of markers. I chose a deep blue, and began carefully following the thick, black lines.
“Do you remember when I had my wisdom teeth removed and you bought me a bunch of coloring books and an enormous tub of markers?
I nodded, remembering that after my mother died, my friends did the same for me.
I chose a lighter color to fill in a several larger areas of the mandala. It was difficult to judge from the plastic whether it was pink, or orange. “You can test it on the back of the page,” she said.
“If it’s not the right color, I’ll work around it,” I said.
Without looking at my paper, she said, “You can always color over it, if you don’t like it.”
“I can,” I thought, “but I don’t want to.”