My mother turns 90 today. Her smile brightens her worn and faded self as she shuffles and nods hello as she passes resident neighbors in the hallway at Lexington Manor. My memory is quick to recall her young face, cropped with dark auburn waves, sharp bright eyes and strong beach tanned arms that held me tucked on her hip while she stirred the supper on the stove. Her warm intelligence was clearly present and without saying a word she exuded confidence and wellbeing in her petite body. She had mothered nine children and I was her first daughter, fourth in line when she was twenty-eight. She awed me. My brothers and sisters beheld her as a dazzling rare bird among urchins. She was the light of our days and made everything work from sunrise to nightfall. We loved her without end.
As the lines begin to creep in around her eyes and mouth her beauty was tied to the track of time and our mother aged and grew more somber with the passing years. Things that had delighted her turned to relics in her memory of the life we knew with her when we were all so young and the world around us so bright with color and the adventure that came with every day. Routine supplanted surprise and we scattered to both sides of the continent; in contact by phone, mail and the trails from our hearts back home to hers in our thoughts.
When I think of my mother, I am a youngster. When my daughter thinks of me, I am an elder. Although she is middle-aged now, and assumes the responsibilities of order in her household with grace, she appears in my heart’s arms as the baby I held so briefly, swaddled and close, to croon into her ear and kiss her little face hello, as my mother so often did with me. We circle round and round as babes-in-arms in our forties, sixties, and now ninety – waiting to be held and kissed hello by our mother – the one who knew us, bore us, held us, cherished us and let us go.
To read my daughter’s counterblog, please visit ReunionEyes.