Tuesday, December 29, 2009
On Christmas Day, Mater and I got acquainted with our respective, shiny new webcams. Now, all of a sudden, she could see me and I could see her; and we had a grand time looking at each another's surroundings- I at the familiar homestead in the darkest, bitterest depths of an Irish winter, and she at the sunlight streaming in the window behind me.
"You've got sunshine," she said, a muffled sob. "Lashings of it! In December!"
"Sorry," I said.
At times the camera worked well, other times hardly at all- the picture frequently got scrambled. When I could again see a clear image of the living room I asked, "What's that on the shelf behind you?"
"A handmade peacock," said Mater. "Would you like to see it up close?"
I said that I would; and over the telephones I distinctly heard Mater stand up to fetch it.
I watched that tiny window for nigh on thirty minutes: Mater, I do declare, never moved from her chair. The peacock remained a dark shadow on the shelf.
"Here it is," Mater said, "I'm waving it at the camera. Can you see it?"
I explained that I still saw her in her original sitting down position; Mater, surprised, said that she had travelled and returned, peacock in hand.
Thus a great debate was struck on the concepts of time and peacocks.
"I can still see you before you fetched the peacock," I said. "The old you."
Mater was perplexed and awed at the singular notion; more so when the minutes dragged on and Mater put the peacock back on the shelf and I was obliged to continually remark that I had not yet seen her stand up to get it. We waited for the moment, fleeting and outwardly innocuous as it might have been, to catch up with us.
But I never did see Mater get the peacock; later on she waggled her fingers and told me she was doing so, and I glimpsed that slight action as she spoke; so the peacock moment had been irrevocably lost somewhere in the middle. But why, and to where had it flown?
Later that evening, when Mater was tucked up in bed and dawn was edging towards Ireland, I wrote her a brief note.
I suggested that she ought to be asleep at the time of writing; unless, I added as an afterthought, she was still busy fetching the peacock.
And somewhere out there- who knows- she just might be.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 4:39 PM