"Lily of the Valley, Mamma and Me" by Mary Anne Mc Enery



I smell lily of the valley scent—mamas’ perfume — from the flower bouquets in the dayroom. We sit in washable armchairs wearing our spotless bibs.

Here comes something white and round with flickering candles. A nurse pounds out ‘happy birthday’, off-key on the old piano.

A man comes up to me; holding out flowers and says,

“Happy eightieth birthday Mom, I’m Peter, your son.”

But he isn’t.

My thoughts balloon and shrivel like the echoes of mama’s laughter.

On my seventh birthday, I remember gift-wrapped paper, bound with rainbow twine, ripped off presents by my impatient tiny fingers. Our Billy shot sparks with his dart gun, and Dandy, the white terrier, dived with fright under the long tablecloth. Granny Edna sat corseted, sipped Earl Grey tea, tut-tutted, and nibbled finger sandwiches of spam and cucumber. The box camera steadied in daddy’s hands to make smiles and memories.

I call mama’s name again and again and again. The nurse advances with the drug trolley. Why doesn’t she give me a hug instead and ask me about her?

“Your mama died, shush now dear,” she says.

The nurse wants to make me cry again.

My debs’ ball,- decked out in my cerise -pink ball gown, and a corsage of orchid pink roses, pinned to my waspish waist. Waltzed in a cloud of pink yearning.

The time I saw my Frank — the moment our eyes met — our souls spoke. Sixty years together, till cancer took him.

Our son Peter, aged seven…………….

“Be calm, dear,” the nurse says.

I try to rise, but I am harnessed to my chair. I cry. They wheel me to my room and tuck me up in bed, securing the bedclothes underneath the mattress. I rattle the cot sides; I try to get free— I hate tight spaces.



Mary Anne Mc Enery is an Irish and Dutch citizen, a senior—who does not act her age— living in The Hague, The Nederlands. She has fun writing micro, flash fiction, and longer short stories. Some of her words can be found on the Friday Flash Fiction and Roi Faineant websites.