Tina Y. Garber
Special to the Standard
Without speaking, the two of us sat and watched the world around us. The warm September breeze made her silver locks tickle her face, it brought a smile to my mother's lips ... 'whooo' she said. We watched the tiny birds nestle into the mulch and leaves which had started to pile up among the flower beds. I held Mother's hands, her fingers deformed by rheumatism, the skin shiny and puffed. At one time those fingers made dinner, held a strong cup of tea, and manipulated garden tools every spring and summer! I will remember this, like a snapshot of a photograph, views of the next moment, and the hours between us. I stared at the cracks in the sidewalk, as ants scurried past, we said nothing.
A foolish thought entered my mind, that Jesus would come and place his hand on her shoulder, and her pain would disappear: that she would finally find her freedom. Perhaps, that is not so foolish and I prayed it's not too far off. When you let God work through you, you are changed for the good, even if the other is not.
I didn't want to let go of her hand, I said, 'I love you, and I am Blessed to be your daughter Tina.' A tear ran down my cheek as she studied my face, this was the first time I noticed the grey rim around her pupils. She stared blankly at me, but I knew she understood, because her hand gripped mine tighter. I wanted to lean my head on her shoulder, and sob like never before. I couldn't say another word, I couldn't speak, as I knew I would sob without ceasing. At that moment I really needed my mother, she was in there, somewhere inside the wrinkled body that sat beside me.
We sat quietly together and let the breeze caress our faces, as the sun warmed our cheeks. It was such a peaceful labour day Monday. We observed the birds, and I wondered if she understood the world around her? Mother knew the world did not revolve around her and it was important, she would say, not to blame others.
We watched an elderly man wearing a cap, digging in the dirt, and watched a dark haired woman push a wheel chair by us. Families arrived, parked their cars, and got out, joining their loved ones inside.
My thoughts started to spin in a different direction now. Was this just a warehouse for the aged? I watched an elderly lady maneuvering around Mother's wheelchair.
Life is not getting from A to Z, it's not the beginning or the destination that counts, it's the ride in-between. If you take the time to feel it, experience it and understand it.
I watched her with a weight of gratitude growing heavy in my chest. I continued to hold her arm, as she attempted to gather her words. I did not understand what she had said, but we both laughed and she had that familiar twinkle in her eye, like that of a mischievous child. She stared at me with confusion, then turned her head, it nodded slightly as she closed her eyes. Keeping her eyes open took more strength than she had, and exhausted, she sank into slumber. I prayed she had plenty of workers who love her, who would console her and listen to her untold stories. They affectionately call Mother, 'Maisie'.
I wonder if Mother is waiting to die? I know she's had enough. At times, she will give me an angry look, like it's my fault. Her hand started to shake, and her body jerked, as she opened her eyes once again. The sun no longer warmed our faces, it was hidden by the clouds.
Visitors came and left, looking at their cell phones, saying hello as we sit together.
Mother smiled, but her eyes were sad. We usually escape into the tiny secret garden around back, at Mother's nursing home. Mother has donated a tree, and it stands proudly, just like her. It will be a reminder that she once shone brightly. The secret garden now has a heavy chain link and a padlock barring us from visiting there. Life is like that. Sometimes, we feel blocked at every turn.
We heard the bamboo wood chimes, making such a peaceful sound, a happy sound, which makes my heart sing. We continued to watch the bees go from flower to flower, as the gentle breeze rocked the purple flowers from side to side. She fell asleep again. I did not have the heart to wake her. I stood and straightened my clothing and took her inside.
The space was closing in around me. I blew her a soft kiss from the large bay window, which now separated us. She looked so peaceful, relaxed as her head gently nodded to the side. She gave me a huge smile, which is strange, I blew her another kiss.
I opened the car window and turned up the radio to drowned my fear, the feelings I keep hidden deep within. I saw a spider scurrying over the dash, searching for somewhere to hide. I wonder if this is a silent sign? My father's nick name was Spiderweb!
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