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Nightingale









Sunday, May 14, 2006

Today, as I approach middle age, I look at my mother through different eyes and wish I could stop her from growing older and from repeating herself.

As my mother and I were eating breakfast last May 1, she asked me, "is Linda going to be here today?" Referring to my sister.

"Yes mommy," I answered patiently and then I stood up from the table. This was at least the 5th time she had asked that question in as many minutes.

While my mommy and grandson were watching tv, I busied myself making a salad. "Don't put shrimps in the salad," mommy said. "You know Linda and her son are allergic to shrimps."

Yes mommy, I answered.

I then proceeded to peeling the onions. While I was chopping the onions, mommy called out to me to say, "don't put shrimps in the salad because Linda and her son are allergic to it." This time I couldn't answer.

I just kept chopping while tears came down my cheeks. I started to think if only I could chop away the years and shred the age from my mommy's face and hands. If only I could go back to my younger years when she would move from room to room, leaving a trace of her favorite cologne. My mommy had been pretty. She still is despite the additional pounds she had gained throughout the years. In fact, she is still everything she has been, just a bit forgetful.

I try to convince myself that's all that it is, and if she really paid attention to what is being said, she would not repeat herself so much. There isn't anything wrong with her...not my mommy.

I then cut off the end of the cucumber, and rub it against the stalk to take away the bitterness. The white juice oozes out the sides. I then thought, wouldn't it be nice if all unpleasant situations could be so easily remedied? Cut and rub. This was a trick I have learned from my mommy along with a trillion other things like cooking, keeping the house clean, singing, dancing, etc. I learned how to grow up and when to stay young. I also learned the art of sorting through emotions. And I learned that when mommy was around, I never had to be afraid. So why am I afraid now?

I studied her hands. Her nails are no longer a bright red, but almost no color at all. And as I scrutinize them, I realized I am no longer looking at those hands but feeling them as they shaped my youth. Hands that prepared a thousand meals and wiped a million tears off my cheeks. Hands that tucked confidence into each day of my life.

I turned away and threw the cucumber into the bowl and then it hits me. My hands have grown into those of my mommy's. Hands that have cooked uneaten meals, held my daughter's frightened fingers whenever she had to perform in school and dried tears off her face.

I grew lighthearted. I felt my mommy kiss me goodnight, check to see if the windows are locked and then gently closing my door behind her. Then I am my mommy, doing just the same things she did. Then someday my daughter will be standing in my place, and I will be resting where my mother now sits.

Will I remember then how it felt to be both mother and daughter? Will I ask the same question one too many times?


 
9:54 AM | Permalink |


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