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母亲生命中留下的最后一张收据

更新时间:2016-9-14 18:34:22 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

My Lost Mother’s Last Receipt
母亲生命中留下的最后一张收据

It was my little sister, Anna, who found the purse.

发现那个皮包的人,是我的小妹安娜。

“Was this hers?” she asked.

“这是她的吗?”安娜问道。

One of our brothers nodded. “Must be the last one she ever used.”

我们其中一个哥哥点头:“一定是她用的最后一个包。”

It had been 20 years since our mother died. Twenty to the day since her funeral.

母亲去世已经20年了。从葬礼那天算起,整整20年。

But we hadn’t been looking for mementos; we’d just been cleaning out the garage. I’d unearthed a painting of the Roald Dahl title character Matilda dedicated to me by the book’s illustrator, Quentin Blake. Anna stumbled on a writing assignment from second grade, where she said she wanted to grow up to “be an art-school girl” but also “study shells and emotions.”

不过,那天我们不是在找点什么来睹物思人,只是在清理车库。我挖出了一幅罗尔德·达尔(Roald Dahl)小说《玛蒂达》(Matilda)主角的画像,是那本书的插画师昆汀·布莱克(Quentin Blake)题赠给我的。安娜则意外发现了她小学二年级的作文,里面写着她长大以后想当个“念艺术学校的女孩”,同时要“研究贝壳与情感”。(《玛蒂达》于1996年改编成电影,由本文作者饰演主角──译注)

Earlier that week, my sister and I had visited our mother’s grave, me for the first time. She had been a beloved daughter, wife and mother — “devoted to children,” the marker read. I was 8 when she died. My brothers were 17, 15 and 13. Anna had just turned 3.

那个星期,小妹与我一起去看过母亲的坟墓,也是我第一次去扫墓。墓碑上刻着,我母亲是个为人所钟爱的女儿、妻子与母亲──“为孩子全心奉献”。她过世的时候,我8岁,哥哥们分别是17、15与13岁,安娜刚满3岁。

“Tell me things you remember about her,” Anna said while we sat by her grave. Not the big things, which she already knew, but the small, day-to-day things.

“你还记得她哪些事情,给我讲讲。”我们坐在坟边时,安娜问我。问的不是那些重大的事情,那些她已经知道;而是日常生活中微不足道的小事。

“Her favorite movie was ‘Sullivan’s Travels.’ She hated ‘Love Story.’ She had a low speaking voice, but could sing soprano. She was so good at calligraphy she hand-lettered her own wedding invitations. She would help me write notes to the Tooth Fairy and set out grapes and raisins for her. She ate tomatoes like they were apples.”

“她最喜欢的电影是《苏利文的旅行》(Sullivan's Travels)。她讨厌《爱情故事》(Love Story)。她说话的声音很低,却能唱女高音。她写得一手好书法,她的婚礼请柬都是自己写的。她会帮我写纸条给牙仙子、摆些葡萄跟葡萄干给它;她像吃苹果那样吃西红柿。”

Our mother was known as the only Burbank Unified School District board member who could use two expletives in one sentence. Many seemed to find her intimidating, but after her death, several people told us, “Your mother was my best friend.” She was talented and theatrical, and yet she never had a career. Instead she had five children. None of us could imagine anyone smarter or stronger than her.

母亲是唯一一个一句话里可以带两个脏字的加州伯班克联合校区董事。不少人似乎觉得她有点可畏,但她死后有好些人对我们说:“你们的母亲是我最好的朋友。”她很有才华,会表演,可是她没有自己的职业,而是成了五个孩子的母亲。我们这群孩子没人能想象,有谁比她更聪明、更坚强。

I became a child actor at 5, and after some unexpected successes, my mother took on the role of manager. She never would have called herself that — her biggest fear was being labeled a “stage mother” — but it’s what she was, and she was good at it. On film sets, she never let me out of her sight. I was there to do a job, and she was there to make sure I did it safely and took it seriously. Out of all of us, she and I probably spent the most time together. I’m grateful I had that, though I regret every day the time I took away from my siblings.

我在5岁那年成为儿童演员。在一些出人意料的成功演出后,母亲开始担任我的经纪人。她绝不如此自称,因为她最怕被贴上“星妈”的标签。可是她确实是个星妈,也非常称职。在拍片现场,她从不让我离开她的视线。我在那儿是为了工作,而她在那儿是为了确保我安全无虞、认真演戏。在众兄弟姊妹里,我大概是花最多时间与她相处的一个。对此我心怀感激,虽然我每天都为了自己把妈妈从手足身边夺走的时间感到懊悔。

Our father remarried when I was a teenager, and Anna was adopted by our stepmother, whom she calls “Mom” or “Inay,” the Filipino word for mother. She has since taken on several of our stepmother’s mannerisms — saying she is going to “close the lights,” eating with a fork and spoon, instead of a fork and knife. She remembers very little of her birth mother. As a child, she once told me, “You made a face like Mama just now,” and another time, she cried when I sang her a song our mother used to sing. But that was all she seemed to remember. For a long time, she had only one photo of herself with our mother, and none of them alone together.

父亲在我青少年时期再婚,我们的继母收养了安娜。安娜叫她“妈”或是“依奈(Inay)”,就是菲律宾语母亲的意思。从此以后,安娜也承袭了继母的许多言谈举止:她会说她要“把灯闭上”,还用叉子和汤匙吃东西,而不是用叉子和刀。她对生母的记忆十分有限。她小时候曾经告诉过我:“你刚做的表情好像妈妈。”还有一次,我为她唱一首母亲曾唱过的歌,她哭了。不过这大概就是她所能记得的全部了。有好长一段时间,安娜只有一张她和母亲的照片,而且照片上不只有她们两个人。

We took the purse upstairs. The leather was worn, and the hinge didn’t quite close.

我们把那个皮包带进屋里。皮革已经磨损,合叶也有点合不上了。

“She never zipped or buttoned her purses shut,” my brother said. I smiled. I never seem to do that, either.

“她从来不会把皮包拉链拉上或是把钮扣扣起来,”哥哥说。我笑了,我好像也从不那么做。

Gingerly, we started looking through it. The first thing we found was a date and address book. There, in her handwriting, were entries for people like Sally Field and Danny DeVito, my earliest co-stars. A week after what would be her last day, she had written, “Fly to D.C.”

我们开始小心翼翼地查看包里有些什么。我们发现的第一样东西是一本行事历兼通讯录。上面有她亲笔记录的莎莉·菲尔德(Sally Field)、丹尼·德维托(Danny DeVito)这些人,是在我的演艺生涯最初时与我合演的明星。在她生命最后一天的一周之后,她写着“飞往华盛顿特区”。

“Oh, that’s right,” my brother said. “We were supposed to go to Virginia. But …”

“啊,对了,”我哥哥说。“我们本来要去弗吉尼亚州的,不过......”

We found unopened makeup, a pill bottle full of medicine to be taken “as needed.” We found a photo of a guru and an invoice from a yoga instructor. When traditional medicine failed to halt her cancer, our mother had turned to herbs and acupuncture. I don’t know if she believed in that stuff, but it did seem to make her more comfortable. Except the time I found her in the kitchen, dumping a smoothie down the drain. “Ugh!” she sputtered, “Fish oil!”

我们找到未开封的化妆品,还有一个小药瓶,装满了可以“根据需要”服用的药物。我们还找到一张印度大师的照片,和一个瑜珈老师开的发票。当传统药物再无法抑制母亲的癌症,她开始转向草药与针灸疗法。我不知道她到底信不信那一套,不过这些疗法确实让她感觉好过点。除了有一回,我在厨房里看到她把一杯奶昔倒进水槽。“鱼油!”她啐道。“哎呀!”

At the bottom of the purse, we pulled out a receipt.

我们从皮包底部摸出一张收据。

“This is from the day she died,” our brother said. “I remember talking to her that day before school. That morning, she was lucid. That night, she … wasn’t.”

“这是在她过世那天开的,”哥哥说。“我还记得那天上学前和她说过话。那天早上她还很清醒,到了晚上就......不是了。”

I remembered, too. Do you think she knew, I wanted to ask? But I couldn’t. “What’s it for?”

我也记得。你觉得她知道自己快不行了吗?我很想这么问我哥,但又说不出口。“她买了什么?”

He hesitated for a moment. “Baby clothes. Toddler size.”

哥哥迟疑了一会儿才回答。“婴儿衣服。学步儿的尺寸。”

We turned to look at Anna. She sat still, looking straight ahead.

我们都望向安娜。她一动也不动地坐着,直直往前看。

“Can I take the purse?” she said, at last, quietly. “I want to get it fixed.”

“这个皮包能给我吗?”许久,她平静地问道。“我想把它修好。”

We nodded.

大家都点头同意。

We don’t know who our mother would have been if she hadn’t worked menial jobs and raised five children. We don’t know who she would have been if she had beat cancer, the way she had promised us she would. But with her last act, she showed us who she was: a woman devoted to her children, to the very end.

我们都不知道,如果母亲没做那些平凡的工作,没有抚养五个孩子长大,她会有怎样的人生。我们也无从得知,要是母亲像她对我们担保的那样抗癌成功的话,又会成为什么样的人。不过,她用临终前的最后一个行动告诉了我们她是谁:一个直到生命最后一刻,都全心为孩子着想的女人。

“Is there anything you want to keep?” Anna asked me the next morning, before we said our goodbyes.

“有什么东西你想留着吗?”第二天早上,安娜在我们道别前这么问我。

I thought of all the photos of me and my mother, the years I got to spend with her that Anna never had.

我想到自己和母亲拍过的所有合照、那些我和母亲一起度过,但安娜从没有过的日子。

“No, that’s O.K.,” I told Anna. “You keep it all.”

“没有,没关系。”我告诉安娜。“你都留着吧。”

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