I tucked Mama into bed for her nap today, after lunch, and climbed in next to her for a little cuddle. And then Mama said, “You’re ‘purdy’.” And my heart was warmed.
And I chuckled to myself and thought, Oh, if only she’d said that to my face instead of my back.
“Thank you, Mama. You’re pretty, too,” I said. I wanted to face her, but she usually gets agitated when I do that. So, I kept my back to her.
And she patted my back and rubbed my arm. I sang, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”– one of the last hymns she still sang herself up to a year or so ago.
The fan on the nightstand blew a gentle breeze over us. And Mama’s soft touches and flutter taps were sweet on my back.
From where I was, my head on Daddy’s pillow, I could see an old photo of Mama framed in gold on the wall above his dresser. Mama was young and healthy and gorgeous.
The photo was taken before Mama married Daddy. Before she gave birth to four children and raised them. Before all the meals she cooked for her family. Before all the dresses she sewed for her little girl. Before all the laundry she washed and groceries she shopped for and fevers and scrapes she worried over. Before all the Christmases and birthdays and holidays she made so special for us.
The photo was taken before Mama invested her life into loving us all so well.
I turned over to face Mom. I combed her white hair with my fingers. I held her wrinkled face between my hands. “You are beautiful, Mama. You are so beautiful.You have been a wonderful mom to us all. I wish I’d been a better daughter to you.” And my eyes filled.
I wanted to climb into her arms. I wanted to be her little girl again. I wanted to have her warm hug envelope me and have her stroke away the fears and hurts and hear her say, “It will all be okay, honey.”
But she started hollering, because my closeness was agitating her. So I rolled back over and she calmed down. And she patted my back again, with her arthritic hands. And she pulled on my shirt here and there. And her fingers flutter tapped my arm.
But I felt the gentle touches…such tender wisps of mothering. And I smiled.