'It’s better to give than to receive.’

'Gratitude is everything.’

‘Thank you letters should be prompt.’

It was better for her to give than to receive. She couldn’t receive. She is a bottomless well.

I dropped presents - red satin boxes with gold bows - into the mossy, stonewall circle that was my mother’s heart. They slid down the dark air of that cold shaft and kept going. With child retrospect I see these boxes emerging from the earth in China, like we all thought we could dig a hole through this planet.

Not that there were a million gifts. Certainly I gave less than she. And some were wrapped in the Sunday Globe comics. These pieces of me - falling solo or in groups - dropped silently through my mother.

She smiled. With each present came the hope - her unacknowledged hope - that one of them would tip sideways and jam the passage. One would stick. And from then on they’d pile on top until she was whole.

She never named that hope. She never shined a light down the mossy well. When we meet now our eyes drift in the watery hole where none of my presents can float or swim or even sink to the bottom. My presents fall.