The Daughter has been over for lunch. She had a business meeting in The Northern Home Counties, at 3.00pm, only about 25 minutes drive from us. She had enough room in her schedule to be with her Old Ma from 11.00am until just gone 2.00pm. When you are an Old Ma with a child who is almost thirty, and is now a Very Busy and Important Regional Manager for an internationally-known and highly-regarded organisation, three hours of her weekday time is more than I could easily afford to pay for, so I am glad I didn't have to bribe her to visit.
What did we talk about? I have hardly any idea. The topics and subjects changed so quickly, so randomly that I don't seem to have stored hardly any of it away. I can remember we both expressed astonishment at the impossible-to-credit (or PAY!) prices of new clothes in high street stores at the beginning of the season when there are no reductions. We are both inveterate charity shoppers and sale rack rummagers. I know that at lunch itself she expressed her delight with chilled pre-cooked mussels (4 mins in the microwave, stir half way through) in white wine sauce and made a mental note to treat herself to a pack occasionally. And, as she put her coat onto leave, I promised her a SEBO vacuum cleaner for their wedding present if/when she and her chap ever get married. This was the beginning, middle and end of what we talked about. There were gazillions of little things in between but they passed in such a blur of animated chatter I can't for the life of me recall the details.
I do know that in three hours of talk we had not a word of disagreement. Is this why I can't remember? Because there were no jarring conflicts or any embarrassed silences which would have followed them, had there been any? And if so, how did we manage it? Were we being very, very careful? No, not particularly. Were we being drearily bland and anodyne? No. God forfend. We didn't - as far as I can recall - stick to any topics for long, let alone "safe"ones. The talk flew as freely as a bird on the wing. A bird who knows where all the neighbourhood cats snooze and prowl, that is.
We reached a point of broad agreement a little time ago The Daughter and her Old Ma. It's a good feeling, now we are here, but to get this point, BOY! have we trodden on one another's sore toes with too swift or unthinking comments or overly harsh assessments of one another's failings. From adolescence until quite recently our time together, although mostly jolly good fun, has been punctuated by some humdingers of back-and-forth spats and skermishes. Angry and uncomprehending exchanges, misunderstandings, reactions and recoilings. But - and this is a HUGE "but" - we are both at heart the type of person who hates hurting the ones we love. So we have found out the subtle and unique sensitivities that characterise the other and we choose to, we endeavour to, and we mostly now succeed in "not going there...".
It's like a pleasant day's journey in summer with no road map but memory, a happy conversation between friends and intimates. The outset and the destination might always be the same, but the route taken, the lanes followed, the watering places called in at, can differ in some way every time. There's never any need for it to be boring. But one knows enough of the lie of the land between START and STOP to avoid the accident blacks spots, the bottle necks, that particulary ugly 1960s town centre with the hugely annoying one-way system.
We can always seem to trouble to do it when we drive from A to B. So - if we can be bothered - we can also do it between Hello and See You Again Soon, I reckon. I've always hoped so, and now I find we can, The Daughter and her Old Ma. Just as The Husband and I mostly achieve.
Now I just have manage to do the same with all the other buggers...