Daniel was sitting in his study reading the document yet again. This had become a daily event in the past week.
‘I know I am going to have to face it sometime, confront her and get a full explanation of why she has not told me before. It is my right to know, what did she think I would do if she told me? I am man enough and understanding enough to deal with it. After all, I am a psychologist and dealing with personal conflicts is my business. I deal with the inner workings of the mind every day, but I can’t understand this. Why did she not trust me, why did she keep this secret all these years? Would she ever have told me if I didn’t discover this myself?’
He went through the possible scenarios of how he would approach the subject.
‘I don’t want to be confrontational but how do I approach such a matter casually. Should I just present her with the document and say nothing. It should be obvious that I deserve an explanation. What if she doesn’t offer an explanation, what will I do then, ask politely? If that doesn’t work should I demand an explanation? But that’s not my style. Maybe I will have to resort to begging or pleading. No, imploring would be a better approach. How many other people in the family know about this and did not tell me. Who might be laughing at me behind my back? Who considers me lesser a man because of it? Stop that Daniel, you can’t allow yourself to think that way, it’s not healthy, it’s not good for your own wellbeing. Maybe I should consult a colleague before I talk to her about it. Who could I trust with this? How would I feel whenever we meet again? I would be embarrassed of course, knowing that he or she knows this about me. Daniel, listen to yourself. You regard yourself as professional and expect your clients to trust you, why not put the same trust in your fellow professional. Yes, I’ll do it, who should I see? Simon maybe, we have been friends since university days. No, we play golf together occasionally; I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my game after confiding in him. Perhaps a female colleague would be better, more understanding of another woman’s actions and motives. I’ve always got on well with Sarah but we’re not too close and I don’t see her socially other than at business events.’
Then his thoughts went back to the issue and he went over various scenarios in his mind as to how it could have happened.
‘Was it just a one night stand, an affair, a relationship that quickly fell apart or, hopefully not, a rape? No, I don’t want to think about that. Whatever happened, happened and how, is not for me to wonder about.’
He also thought about the man.
‘Where is he now, did they have any contact in later years, did he even care? I’ll do it. I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll sit down with her, approach the matter calmly, present this document to her and firmly insist that she explain why I’ve been kept in the dark for so long.’
‘Damn! Tomorrow’s Mother’s Day’.
Jenny was awakened early by the arguing in the kitchen. This was not an unusual situation in the Covid household, but it always reached a peak on mothers’ day. Ever since he was old enough to throw a slice of bread into the toaster, Kevin had demanded that he be in charge of mothers’ day breakfast.
Daniel got up, said ‘Happy Mothers’ Day’ but did not follow up with a kiss. He pulled on track pants and a warm top then left the bedroom. In preparation for the expected room service, Jenny went to the bathroom, donned her best dressing gown and got back into bed.
While waiting, her mind wandered back to earlier mothers’ day breakfasts. Over the years the quality of the toast had slowly improved. The worst she could remember was burned to a crisp and covered up with blackberry jam. The next year the burnt bits were scraped off. Then a few years on, thanks to the new toaster Daniel had given her the year before, her children finally produced an edible serve of toast and marmalade.
Once they had mastered the toast they felt confident enough to face the challenge of eggs. Jenny squirmed a little at this thought. She hated hard-boiled eggs almost as much as she hated sloppy scrambled eggs. She was comfortable with extra crispy bacon, but undercooked was difficult to swallow.
Some years back she overheard a conversation, the night before, that pancakes were planned for the next morning. She was a little disappointed when they did not materialise on her tray and assumed the plans had changed. Late that afternoon she went to get the dog’s bowl to give him his evening feed. She then found out why she didn’t get pancakes for breakfast. They had lain all day in the dog’s bowl. Even Bert the Boxer would not eat them.
Pouring hot water on some dry leaves, apart from the dangers of scalding, would seem a simple procedure, but tea was another breakfast item that they had trouble mastering. It varied from tastelessly weak to so strong, that Jenny was afraid the tannic acid would strip the silver right off the spoon. Add to this the problem of transporting it on a tray to the bedroom and she either finished up with more in the saucer than the cup, most of it spilled on the toast, or both.
But she still thought fondly of her children and their genuine efforts to please her. To her every breakfast in bed was five star service, especially when the tray was decorated with flowers. When Jason and Christine were in charge she usually received a single flower lying on the tray. However, when Kevin started to assert himself, the flower arrangements were a wonder in themselves. A full bunch of flowers in a large vase was his first effort, but that didn’t even make it to the bedroom. Jenny heard it crash to the floor half way down the hall. The following year Christine convinced him to be a little more restrained, so Jenny was presented with a small vase displaying three short-stemmed chrysanthemums. Kevin insisted they came from their garden, but Jenny knew they were pilfered from the neighbour’s garden, as Mavis was the only one in the street who could grow them in that dark mauve shade. The next year he wove the flowers into a head piece resembling a crown of thorns. He wore it himself when delivering the breakfast and then placed it on Jenny’s head with the words ‘I crown thee world’s best mum’. He had apparently not noticed the small grub in the flowers, until it dropped from the garland and drowned in Jenny’s tea.
All had gone quiet in the kitchen so Jenny assumed Daniel’s intervention had the situation under control and she eagerly awaited the arrival of this year’s offering. Then her thoughts went to some of the gifts she had received over the years. They ranged from the smallest serviette ring she had ever seen, made by Jason at school, to a two metre by two metre painting all three had made by putting a board on the driveway, stepping in trays of paint and then running and sliding over the board. It still hung in the garage.
In between those there had been the obligatory slippers, handkerchiefs, tea towels and pot mitts. But what Jenny valued the most were the items they had made themselves, either at school or at home. Jason’s ashtrays were amusing, especially since neither Jenny nor Daniel smoked, but apparently the craft teacher did. Jenny initially ignored the three indentations around the edge until she realised they were actually Jason’s fingerprints and said it was a wonderful way to decorate a trinket bowl.
Christine’s effort at embroidery was genuinely appreciated and still adorns a side table in the living room. Kevin’s gifts were often puzzling and amusing. There was the year that he decided to make his card with cut-out letters from magazines. He tried to say ‘Of all the Mums in the world, I pick you’. But he did not realise that he pasted the letter ‘p’ upside down.