I was working with my co-worker on the system we use for tracking FMLA. She's trained in FMLA, and I have slightly more experience with the computer system. We're a good team. Anyway, we were doing something, and the system, which doesn't always make your updates in real time, did something weird with the record she was working on. She made a comment, "Who designed this program?" that made me laugh.
She had said it in exactly the same way, when things weren't going her way during a Skip-Bo game, my mother would say, in mock irritation, "Who SHUFFLED these cards?" Most of the time it was me. But sometimes it was her. We always laughed about it. I told my co-worker this story. She loved it.
Later, another co-worker, sitting at her desk with headphones on, singing a bit tunelessly, also brought a story about my mom to mind.
When my mother first started chemotherapy, she didn't have Kaiser. At that time, she and my dad had some other health insurance that I've forgotten the name of. Maybe it was Health Net. Her oncologist's office was not very nice. I had a lot of complaints about this lady and her office. One of them was that I wasn't allowed to sit with my mom while she got her treatment. So I would take my mom to her appointment, and sit in the dirty waiting room. Sometimes there would be a movie on the TV - something horrible, and loud. Anyway, I'd sit out in the waiting room, try to read, and wait.
One day I was sitting there, waiting. The treatment room was behind a door and down a hall. It wasn't far. It was a small office. And I heard a sound. Someone was moaning. Crying? No. Someone - my mother - was singing. She'd taken her iPod into the room with her and was wearing her headphones, singing along with whatever Christian music she had programmed on that thing, but in a key that was all her own. That key maybe had four notes in it. All of them, terrible.
And she wasn't being quiet about it - mom was singing in full voice. I don't remember if there were other patients back there - I just remember cringing. My mom was hard of hearing, and couldn't hold a tune to save her life, but the woman loved music. She loved it. I hope I didn't give her too hard of a time about it later. I told my co-worker, the one who was singing a little better than my mom, how she had reminded me of my mother at that moment. I had to be careful - I didn't want her to think I was criticizing her singing. But man did it remind me of my mother. I sat down at my desk and cried a little, thinking about it. I smiled, too. God I miss her. I'd love to hear her awful singing voice one more time.