The pink evening sun slips over her shoulders like a lace shawl. She sits huddled inside her apron carefully peeling an apple. Pauses to stop and listen to the conversation.
Her blue eyes are wide—like a newborn’s. I gently remind her to peel, and she smiles. Rosebud cheeks lifting. Shoulders shrugging. Returns to her apple for a few more seconds.
It’s a pie-making bee. The ladies from the church are gathered in my mother’s living room. Dad’s spread a tarp on the floor, and we’re slicing, dicing and rolling in flour-dusted harmony.
Mum is flushed; I worry she’s tiring. Again, like a newborn, she can quickly become over-stimulated. Fuzzy.
“Do you need a glass of water?” I ask, rising. She nods haphazardly. I bring it to her lips and she drinks. Looks up at me gratefully. Tears spring.
I’ll never get over it. The way brain cancer has softened my mother’s jagged edges. Six years of losing her mind and finding her heart.
We used to fight, door-slamming, pot-banging, fist-flying fights until our temples throbbed blue with veins. I moved out west for school, and stayed there. Came home only when I realized how sick she was. Now, I cannot leave her side.
“You’re so patient with her,” one of the church ladies whispers to me as I watch Mum pad away in her slippers towards the bathroom. I feel baffled. Patient?
“She’s my mum,” I say quietly.
That’s all I can muster.
How do I explain the pain in my chest every time I hug the woman who gave me life?
The way I wish I could excavate the tumor and fill her head whole again?
How do I explain the nights filled with tears on her ‘fuzzy’ days, the way my faith has curled at the corners, tattered and old?
But it’s more than that.
It’s watching Mum stop and dance to the radio in the middle of the living room floor. Seeing her lift her hands to the ceiling in spontaneous worship.
It’s watching her sway in her favorite sweatshirt and her droopy trousers, baggy and blue.
It’s wanting to stand in her slippers and feel the way she does—utterly content just to dance.
People say I’m patient with her. But, as a woman who’s expecting her first child in November, I imagine it’s much like it will be with my newborn. It’s an honor—not a chore—to serve someone who reflects the very face of God.