The medium blue linoleum sink counters at my elementary school are still there. I remember this because I once transformed the whole nook into a model of the water and surrounding environment of Lake Victoria for a social studies project on a day that feels like yesterday though it was in 1972.
My mother died 30 years ago today, Wednesday, October 9, between two curtains in the intensive care area of Saint Vincent’s Hospital across the street from school. The hospital is now a condominium and this morning I could see a line of art-moving trucks emptying art into the building. It was the first semi-positive sign of the day.
I was at school today because I had signed up to help make applesauce for my son’s class. I walked up the old stairs to the 4th floor, through the doors and around the hallway. Eli was at the front of the line waiting to go in. He was embarrassed I guess because he didn’t look at me. So I stayed back with the girls at the table on the other side of the room and helped them carve the beloved Honeycrisps and the newly named Divas. I learned that there are 7,000 different types of apples in the world and that no one knows why.
When we were finished and my son left the room without saying goodbye, I walked to the sink to wash my hands. Also to check that the linoleum was still there. Passing the guest chef I told her that even though I was a parent, I had also been a 4th grader there, too. Looking into the sink, thinking of my lake project, my weeks of preparation, my mother’s patient craftwork and good-natured guidance, I had to hide my tears while politely asking her name. “Victoria,” she said.