Mother Linnea’s Remembrance

438
Lucinda Palme

Mother Linnea’s Remembrance

Linnea Kaspersen and Jonas Kellerman has shopped and dined at Nordstan the centre of shoppers, diners and idlers; and came out of the shopping mall towards Brunnspark. On the footbridge connecting Nordstan and Brunnspark, there has been a busker strumming his guitar. A tune from the instrument touched Linnea, at the same time her husband Jonas’ mobile phone rang. Excitedly, he plunged his hand into his trenchcoat and pulled out the phone and saw who the caller was. He looked at his wife, and said, “My second daughter from LA.” He excused himself from his wife, and nudged aside from the footbridge to the trees-dotted area in the patch of Brunnspark.

The busker strummed.

Linnea stood by the busker, listening to his music but watching the burst of happiness on her husband’s face. Another tune from the guitar of the busker touched Linnea. She remembered to talk her son, her only child, and she pulled out her mobile phone from her knee-length faux pas furcoat and called him. The phone was ringing to connect the mother and son. She knows, her son always answers her calls. He is always there for her rather than she had been for him. She greeted him, confidently, “Karl!”

“This is not Karl, Karl’s wife,” the American-Swedish daughter-in-law Caroline replied.

“Where is Karl?” she asked, surprised. Karl’s utterance of ‘mamma’ is always a sweet melodic sound for her that dignified her existence.

“He is in Cern.”

“Cern?” Linnea is pleasantly surprised that her son has made it to the happening place on particle physics in the world: CERN.

“Yes.”

“He didn’t tell me,” Linnea said.

“He tried to call you. Like always, you were unreachable for him, I guess.”

“But,” Linnea said, and lost for words, what to say. She realized that she had many unanswered calls on her phone, and her son’s number was also in the non-priority list. She felt a stab of sword in her stomach from her daughter-in-law’s words: ‘like always, you were unreachable for him’.

“We’re moving to Switzerland.”

“What?”

“Yes. Karl at Cern, I will be working for a bank in Geneva.”

“Can I call him?”

“Of course, it is…”

“Can you text me, please.”

“Sure. I always think why he adores you so much…though you were hardly there in his life. He even took his old photo of both of you with him,” daughter-in-law said.

Linnea felt the stab of sword going deeper into her stomach. The fact is she could not counter her statement ‘you were hardly there in his life’ for it is a fact. Mother Linnea failed to respond to her son’s pleas for money during his teenage and 20s, to be with him in the hospital when he was bed-ridden, and to be with him or visit him as the grandmother of his children, ceremonially or otherwise. She always had something to tell him and excuse herself in responding to him, something tangibly important that she could not afford to miss. With time, he stopped calling for her for help but he always answered her calls. The distance between the mother and the son grew as the son has grown shifting his life between his mother and father before he found his grounding in the world around him in Sweden.

With the passage of time, Karl started to feel the miraculous beauty in humans and the ruthless selfishness in humans in equal measure, mother or father. He started to discover his grounding, elsewhere, away from mother and father. Yet he adored them from a distance for that is the least a human can do to a parent(s) for bringing one into the world.

“You don’t know what we know,” Linnea said suppressing her anger erupting in her like lava of a dormant volcano but erupting.

“I know what you don’t know. I spent more time with him than you have spent,” daughter-in-law asserted. “In quality, and in quantity.”

“Okay.”

The music from the busker sounded to Linnea just like any other sound.

“Have a good evening,” daughter-in-law said. “Though it is drizzling.”

It was November. It was cold, and drizzling.

“I will,” Linnea uttered, and slowly dropped her phone into the pocket of her furcoat.

The busker was still strumming his guitar. Her husband was still on the phone. She noticed the dance of happiness on his face, she saw how he manoeuvred his life fairly successfully with his children while she drifted from one man to another man without her son in the priority list. She felt angry at herself: for her vulnerability to a companion at the expense of her son.

And a tune from the busker’s guitar tickled Linnea, deep down in her heart: ‘it is never late, dear human’.

—Lucinda Palme