The women agreed to have one final glass of wine. It had been a wonderful lunch and they were all, especially Michelle, the host, a little light headed. Childminders and husbands were rung and arrangements made to ensure children would be collected from school.
The chatter and gossip continued around the huge dining table in the kitchen. Michelle and her husband were wealthy and the kitchen boasted marble worktops, a Belfast sink and the latest gadgetry.
The guests were in a good mood. It being Friday, this group of friends was looking forward to the weekend.
In the next room was Stephanie, Michelle’s Greek-Cypriot mother in law. She’d lived with the family since her husband died three years ago.
A discreet individual, she knew when to keep out of the way. Not that she wasn’t welcome, Michelle and Stephanie got on exceedingly well.
It was just that, you know, Stephanie was 40 years older than everyone else in the house. She didn’t want them feeling awkward or like they had to tone down the conversation because of her presence.
Ah, the conversation, secretly Stephanie loved listening in to the conversations her daughter in law had with her friends. The talk of schools, children, husbands, holidays, family life and the love lives of the single ladies intrigued and entertained her.
Inevitably there were conversations about sex. It was no different on this occasion. Some graphic detail had been blurted out by one individual resulting in giggles all around the table. A few other experiences were swapped until Michelle hushed them all with a whispered reminder about who was next door. What Stephanie heard made her wince slightly, but who were these girls trying to kid? She had four children of her own and they hadn’t been delivered by the stork.
Some people say age is only a number but Stephanie disagreed. The physical impact of ageing had taken its toll on her body. Stairs were a struggle and she could no longer lift her grandchildren or roll around on the floor with them. Three different types of heart medication rattled around her handbag in pill bottles but at least she was still alive, unlike many of her friends.
Stephanie had witnessed friends with dementia and she’d lost family members from cancer. It wasn’t easy, but at least her son’s beautiful family was here to provide support and love.
A short while later Michelle came through and asked if she’d care to join her friends while they had coffee. Worried about appearing rude, Stephanie agreed and made small talk with them all. She admired their clothes, jewellery and perfume. In fact she really enjoyed spending twenty or so minutes in the company of these younger women. It was a pleasant reminder of youth and what Stephanie once had.
When it was time for the guests to leave, Stephanie announced they were all “very glamorous ladies. I look forward to meeting you again.”
Being British, they offered the older woman a hand to shake or a cheek to kiss. Being Greek-Cypriot, Stephanie responded with a bear hug and a gregarious demand they return again soon.
The brief social encounter had left Stephanie feeling tired.
“Are you okay mum?” asked Michelle. This was the way Stephanie insisted on being addressed by her daughter in law.
“Yes my dear. I am just a little tired,” she replied. “You are lucky with your family and youth and friends. Enjoy these things while you can.”
“Thank you mum. Well, we’re lucky to have you too. Not that I feel very youthful, I’m almost forty.”
The two women smiled at each other. There was pause while Stephanie got out of her chair.
“One other thing, I hear what your friends say earlier when you all giggle. You know, while you were having your erotic discussion.”
The emphasis was very clearly on the word erotic. Michelle went red. She didn’t like the way this was going.
“You just make sure that son of mine is, you know, keeping you happy in the bedroom. I may be old, but these things are important in a marriage.”
With that Stephanie walked slowly out of the room and to her bedroom for a rest. Slightly shocked, Michelle poured herself another glass of wine.
Story based real events and the resulting conversation having been greatly sanitised.
Copyright, John Adams, London, November 2014.
This post was inspired by #theprompt linky hosted by the Mum Turned Mom blog (the prompt word being age). It has been added to this, and a couple of other linkies. Go, take a look, see what other creative people have been writing.
Nikki Young Writes