Winter makes me think of my mother.
Maybe it is the memory of how much she hated the winter. How she was frightened of slipping and falling on the ice. Or how every year she made plans to move to Florida.
Every year she said the same thing."Next year I'm moving to Florida." And every year, wearing her boots with the thick rubber soles, she continued to scrape the inch thick ice from her windshield.
I knew she was afraid of the ocean. When we visited her sister in Florida the guest bedroom we shared faced the ocean. One night she said, "There is something about the ocean that frightens me. It feels like it could swallow me up." She said it just like that. To no one in particular. I knew she didn't expect me to answer.
Winters became more difficult as she got older. She was afraid to drive in the snow and she became obsessed with falling on a patch of ice.
I wanted to take care of my mother in her old age.
"Who will take care of me when I'm old?" She asked the question when I was about thirteen.
"Which one of my kids would wash my hair?"
"I would, Mom."
She seemed not to hear me although I'd said it out loud.
"None of my kids would," she said.
I thought I'd be the one. As the only daughter it was my duty.
It was my brother who ended up taking care of her in her old age. By then I had been banned permanently. The Jewish prayer for the dead had been said in my name.
She never did get to Florida, although much later, after her death, my brother told me he tried. He and the other brother and his wife took her to look at places to live. He said she wouldn't get out of the car.
I try to picture them cajoling her, trying to make her get out of the car. In the end, they flew back to the city she would always call home. The city where she was buried underneath the frozen January ground.
If anyone had asked, I would have told them she wanted to be cremated, not buried. She told me that more than once. But no one asked.
My brother's wife wore my grandmother's pearls on the plane.
The pearls my grandmother had left for me.
My mother had given them to her.
There was no one else to give them to.
After all, her own daughter was dead.