The Small Things
One day, as my mother struggles to get out of her seat belt for the hundredth time, her MS relapse making the small things in daily life difficult again, my 5-year-old brain suddenly wonders – “How will I recognize you when you’re older Momma? Your hair is starting to change colors.”She grins in the mirror momentarily looking back at me, her glasses nearly as large as her face and her bifocals glaring in the reflection.“You’ll just know sweetie.”, she assures me.
Twenty-three years later, I am driving down the old country lane that is barely wide enough for one vehicle – let alone two. How large it seemed as a child. Open, free, those paths to other places where interesting things happened. Now, they’re simply small scars on the countryside – wandering to and fro. But still, onward to my mother’s house I go.The paneling on the sagging two-story house is greening with age and mildew. My brother hasn’t power-washed it this year yet. The yard looks more dead and yellow than normal, and somehow I feel this is an omen to what I might find inside.“When was the caretaker by last?”, I wonder to myself, speaking only to the trees that used to house my castles and dreams.
The porch creaks heavily as I meander up the ramp and through the rusted gate. I hear her Shih Tzu barking…my heart drops to my stomach as I hear a screeching yowl. I turn the knob on the door, almost hesitantly but with fear driving me, not knowing what to expect on the other side.
As I navigate through the widened path between antiques, knick-knacks, and all of my mother’s memories made of life, I find her in her worn-out chair. The dust is thick and dancing in the streams of sunlight.
“Hello! How are you today?” She cheerfully hollers, as though nothing had happened at all. “I’m good today Mom, how are you feeling? I thought I heard something when I came in, are you okay?” I ask in a low and slow voice. Her hearing aids don’t seem to work as well as they did before – her befuddlement obvious as she leans forward further to indicate me to repeat. She pretends she hears me the second time, and asks her daughter, “Oh, and how is your mother doing?”
The ravages of time are progressing faster now.
My heart sinks as I respond uncertainly, “I don’t know, how are you doing?”
The confusion seems to clear for a brief moment, and she smiles at me again.
Her glasses still cover most of her face, and her bifocals still glint in the light. I wonder if she sees the same flash of time and the brightness of that memory as I do – even if only for a second. If only I knew she could remember those small things.
Aza Enigma is a writer and advocate for everyone that has gotten the short end of the stick in this life. They’re on Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram sharing writing and creative endeavors.