“Who is it?” I called.
“It's only me.” A familiar voice said as I peeped through the spyhole.
With my little eye, I spied an old woman, in a navy blue coat with her grey hair scraped back from her face, standing outside in the corridor. I let out a relieved sigh as I recognised Mum. Sometimes she turns up unannounced bearing snippets of news or food parcels. A motherly check of 'she's okay', despite speaking every night on the phone. Dad and the dog usually wait in the car downstairs to fend off any over-zealous parking inspectors. Ever since I was small, his mindset has been: 'You can't be too careful these days.'
I stifled a giggle as I unchained the safety catch, pulled back the dead bolt, and opened the door a crack. It's like Fort Knox I thought – too secure. I live in an entry-phone community, yet too often I've had a tap-tap on the door from unsolicited couriers who've wandered in or memorised the code.
“Are you coming in?” I asked.
“Quickly.” She replied and made an attempt to bustle pass me.
I blocked her, “Shoes off!” I ordered, as I wondered if either of them obeyed this rule when I'm not here? Should I rethink the spare keys?
I watched as Mum unfastened velcro flaps, slipping each shoe off and placing them side-by-side on the doormat. In socked feet, she padded through and headed straight for the open-plan lounge/kitchen.
“I got you these.” She said pulling out mini-cans of ratatouille and pease pudding from coat pockets, “Oh, and these.” She fumbled with the coat's inner lining and revealed sealed bags of dried fruit. “And I thought you might be interested in this.” She added as she thrust the latest Waitrose Kitchen into my hands.
“Thanks.” I muttered a tad overwhelmed by the assortment of goods she's supplying. It's all above board, but her conduct makes me feel I'm dabbling in the black market.
“Right, that's your lot. Same time next week.” A brisk peck on the cheek and before I've even said goodbye, she's gone.
There's nothing quite like a mother's love; it's full of surprises, even furtive ones. Sometimes I arrive home and find articles in my post box, or I walk in to tins lined up on the work-surface, a bag of frozen veg stuffed in the freezer, and juice in the fridge door. In the past, I tried to get her to stop, but it got worse. I ended up with all the 2 for 1, 3 for 4, or bogof deals; I never knew what I might come home to, so now we have an arrangement: I put an order in and she supplies it. Occasionally, a rogue item slips in or she'll make wild substitutions, the same as online shopping, but in return you receive a personal service. The whole system is designed around her need-to-be-mothering: to nurture an adult who, at no matter what age, she will always see as her child.