The youngest of three sons, I moved away from home under entirely normal, peaceful circumstances when I was eighteen. Many years later, when my mother was on her downhill slide, she said that for quite some time, she couldn’t go into my room without crying. I was home every weekend, but I never knew. On one hand, it’s possible that something that had happened once or twice became momentarily exaggerated in her mind. On the other, blinded by my own ego and good health, it’s possible I was dense enough not to see it. Even then, we had already been friends for years, going back to my earliest memories of us being together. These memories are woven through “The Painting of You,” and many have been recorded elsewhere. Now that I think about it, there are hints, even, in “A Listening Thing.” At any rate, the friendship continued even after she wasn’t always sure who I was, when she thought I was my father, for instance, or thought I was her sister, or simply a steadily reliable abstract visitor and caretaker she called “Bill.” Who’s to know? A gift is a gift, and such we were to both.