Debby told me and Emi a story when we were all visiting Mom for her birthday. This was about twenty-five years ago. Debby had a habit of making a coffee drink at home in the morning and topping it with whipped cream. She’d then go out into her Florida home’s backyard to enjoy it. Trying to rebuild her life, she’d started going to college while working at night, leaving her children up north for their grandparents to raise them.
A squirrel approached her during one of her early mornings. Debby thought the squirrel was interested in her drink. Debby put some whipped cream on a spoon and offered it to the squirrel. The squirrel hopped over to her and lapped it up.
That started a daily habit. Debby and the squirrel met every morning to share a spoonful of whipped cream. Their ritual continued for four years. Then, one morning, she went into the back yard and found the squirrel dead.
Debby’s life had been a struggle since a brutal assault in Jacksonville had taken place in her early twenties. She kept trying to rebuild, and kept getting knocked back. After a miscarriage, she endured a three year stretch that saw a business bankruptcy, personal bankruptcy, and divorce because her husband was unfaithful and a drug abuser. Then she learned that her husband hadn’t been paying taxes to the IRS for over three years. The squirrel had been a symbol of change. Now the squirrel was dead.
Debby cried when she told the story. Emi and I cried when we heard it.
Come forward to last week. Mom had passed away. Home to make her funeral arrangements, Debby, Emi, and I were remembering our lives with Mom. Debby recalled how her parents had taken her children in, so I mentioned the squirrel tale, because it was part of that same era.
Debby looked blank. “Nope. Wasn’t me.”
Emi said, “I don’t remember ever hearing that before in my life.”
Their response stunned me. I guess the memory was just mine.
It really makes me wonder.