An Old Wives’ Tale

She sat near, but not at, the head of the table, her soft, wrinkled hands quivering as they brought the glass of water up to her thin lips. She sipped slowly while conversation continued around her. And then she coughed.

She brought the glass down as she shook, her frail body trying desperately to remove the stray rivulets of water from her windpipe. Her daughter-in-law clapped her gently on the back. She stopped coughing, emerging from her fit to silence and concerned looks around the table.

“That means someone’s thinking about you mom,” her son smiled. “Who is it?”

Her gaze lifted, searchingly. “There’s nobody left to think of me,” she replied with a trace twinge of melancholy in her voice. “It’s just an old wives’ tale anyway.”

And that’s probably true.

But maybe it’s inverted. Maybe we choke on water and think that it’s because someone is thinking about us, but really it’s just another reason for us to call their memory to mind.

And as dinner continued, only she knew whom she was thinking of.