Gayle King's Aha Moment
That person would be my mother, Peggy King. We were extremely close, and when she died in 1994, I felt that I had lost my anchor. "What do your children know about your mother?" Jill asked me. "Oh, tons!" I said. "I talk about her all the time." She asked if she could find out what they knew. "Sure, go ahead," I said, confident that my children would ace this little test. I called them into the room and asked, "What do you remember about Grammy?" Will hesitated a moment and said, "Well, she smoked cigarettes and you didn't like it." That wasn't quite the answer I was expecting. Then Jill asked him, "What has your mother told you about your grandmother?" "Well, she told me that Grammy had a heart attack," he said. Kirby nodded her head. That was all.
I felt embarrassed and very sad. "Is that all you remember me telling you?" Didn't they know that Saturday night at our house was Sloppy Joe Night? Didn't they know how often my mom and I played jacks (she was great) or how my hand always shot up at school when the teacher asked whose mother could drive to a field trip or bake cookies for the class? How could they not know these things?
Because, I realized, I had never told them. I sent the kids back outside. "I was so sure I had shared these memories because they are so vivid for me," I said, shaking my head. Jill asked gently, "If you don't share your feelings about your mother, what makes you think your children will feel comfortable talking about you when you die?"