Towards the end of an episode of “The War,” a Ken Burns documentary on PBS, Mom said, “Paris is the city of lights,” with a gleam in her eye.
The men and women interviewed for this film were relating their experiences during WWII, when Mom was a young girl.
“Was Paris your favorite city?” I said.
“One of them.”
“Which other ones did you like?” I said.
“Vienna.” She had a dreamy look in her eyes.
“What about Haworth?”
“Yes, of course.”
Always a fan of books by the Brontë sisters, particularly Wuthering Heights, I assumed her favorite place in Europe would have been Yorkshire, England. She brought back a sprig of heather from the moors which she placed under the glass top of our antique coffee table, which is now in my house. She and my Dad traveled to Europe in 1972; it would be her only trip abroad. She kept a journal during that trip, jotting down her impressions. She used a delicate sprig of heather as a bookmark.
Her illustrated volume of Wuthering Heights from the 1940s was among the possessions that got ruined during Hurricane Irene. Most of her belongings were stored in our basement when we got flooded. She doesn’t know this, nor does she need to.
None of this matters anymore.
What matters is this moment, that she is happy recalling her time in Paris and Vienna, no matter how fleeting.
It makes me happy too.