It's official. I've become my mother.
I see her in the mirror, and almost always when I look, my mouth is set like hers. As if she's just about to say something nobody really wants to hear.
When I reach out to settle myself - an equilibrium problem makes me wobbly - I hear Mom say "I just need to touch something, and I'm OK."
This is why someone invented the use of those big letters OMG.
I act like her, say things she'd say, but the greatest slap in actuality came from my sister, Barbara, in the first email she sent after I'd stayed with her in Springfield, Ill. "You sure do talk a lot," she wrote.
OMG again and again. And again.
When Mom was alive and went anywhere with my husband and me, I'd stick her in the front seat and I'd sleep in the back. She kept Walt from getting sleepy because the woman never shut up. She sure did talk a lot.
And now I know why. She lived alone.
People who live alone tend to talk to themselves, and after a while, it's just no fun any more. There needs to be more to a conversation - a rebuttal or agreement in some other voice. A person just can't argue well with herself.
There comes a time when talking to another person is necessary. That time hit me the other night just before midnight. Being the night person I am, I jumped in the car, stopped for a large Diet Coke and headed to the other side of town. A few stores are open at midnight, and I did so want a conversation.
My daughter, who lives in Denver, Colo., laughs when I say I'm going to the other side of town since that other side is just 5 miles away. When she's in Dodge, she and I always shop at midnight on the other side of town.
But to my credit, I turned the car around and came home instead of shopping. I hate to shop anyway, and suddenly talking to another person didn't seem so important - or safe. I have friends who work late shifts or stay up almost as late as I, but I can't make myself call them just in case they're not working late or staying up late. Few friendships can outlast unexpected midnight conversations.
My friend Patty Gardner doesn't have to worry about finding someone to talk to if ever she feels the need. After a lifelong search, she found her birth mother and just last Sunday sat down to dinner and a long talk with her.
It was, as Patty felt in her heart, a forced adoption. Her birth mother, a teenager, had been forced to give up her baby girl, something that haunted her. Patty's daughter, a social worker, helped with the search.
And now, after years and years of wondering, Patty doesn't have to wonder. She can pick up the phone and talk to her first mother whenever she wants.
I'm betting pretty soon she'll see her mother in the mirror.
So long friends, until the next time when we're together.
Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.