“You never thought you would be feeding me.”
My Mother says this. Her eyes closed, sitting wrapped in a frayed white wooly blanket. She is perched, just a little bent to one side in an upright chair. The dull grey winter light touching the side of her face. I have just tilted half a spoon’s worth of vegetable broth between her lips.
She is right.
Nothing about this scene would I have ever imagined in this well ordered life of mine spent for many years so far away from here. But in this moment now there is no distance.
Time has changed us both so much, and in so many ways. I am no longer an anxious little boy clutching at her hand and crying out for her all comforting embrace.
She is 96 and the flame of her life flickers dimly now. The intimate connection between Mother and son transformed into a manner now new and unexplored to us both.
Yesterday her slender young Doctor, with dignified streaks of grey that swept across the temples of his dark brown hair said, “Mary, you are slowing down.”
She nodded to this, even though she may not have heard it all or even seen his face. Her eyes closed so often now. Her scattered thoughts drifting across the deep sea of her precious memories.
Even a young Doctor has seen lots of little frail old ladies sitting awkwardly in hospital chairs and grasping at their fading lives. Coming to terms with this new reality as great portions of their world start fraying and dissolving around and about them.
I dip the spoon into the bowl, navigate a circuitous course around soft lumps of carrot and potato. Delivering then a clear warm spoon of broth to my mother’s lips is after all such a simple thing to do.
What is much more difficult is digesting the immensity of what this moment means. To measure this small act against all that she has done and sacrificed for me is impossible.
Her love for me cannot be contained. Maybe all children catch a glimpse of this when they serve their mothers is some small way.
Winter has come
Yet the flower still grows
To scatter its seeds up into the wind