I had a call the other night from one of the women I admire most in the world. She was a steadfast friend of my mother’s, and she and her husband have, since my mother’s death, looked out for my father, even as he becomes increasingly eccentric.
My parents met Marg and John in university. They all worked together to build their cottage on the Sunshine Coast, where I spent two weeks of every summer, growing up. If I close my eyes right now, I can see the rich, curling bark of the arbutus tree in the front yard, standing out against the blue of the ocean and the deep furry green of the island opposite the bay.
They remained close friends through house-buying and child-having and the rest of those things that constitute life. Their family has always been closer to us than even many of our relatives.
When Marg was pregnant with twins, her two-year-old daughter came and lived with us for three months. The twins were born on my dad’s birthday, so we always celebrated together.
When I was going through teacher training, I lived at their house.
After my mother died, Marg helped me clear out her closets.
On the phone the other night, there was a lull in the conversation. Then Marg said, “Sometimes I just wish I could talk to your mom.” “Me too,” I said.
I wondered if she’d called me as a substitute. And then I wondered how I was doing, as a substitute.