One day, my sixty-five-year-old mother came to me while I was preparing for work. She sat on one of the benches in front of the pad I am renting while I was heading for the door. As usual, she was wearing those fancy tops that a woman in her sixties wouldn’t mind wearing. She was in her best made-up face, her everyday façade, beautiful and unfading.

Old Woman - photo by ermol

Mama began to talk and asked me if I heard of our neighbor who will undergo surgery because her two toenails will be removed due to gangrene. I said I have no time gossiping about neighbors and their misfortune. I am in a hurry and I said irately, “Ma, you shouldn’t waste your time talking about our neighbors. You are sixty-five and you should learn to mind your own life.” She smiled and replied, “You are always the woman I expect you to become… independent and straight.”

Trying to end up the conversation because I am sure it will eat up my time and I will be late for work, I asked her where she’s going and why she was dressed well. She turned her face towards the neighbor’s door and said, “I am going to visit her.” I gave my face a finish and stood up to leave as I replied, “Ma, there are more significant things than gossiping. Why don’t you just go to work and do better things than talk about people who are not affecting you anyway?” I turned my back irritated, pulled my bag and put on my shoes.

Mama went on saying, “She was my classmate in primary school. She used to be bubbly and fun. We usually talk in the afternoons and now, she can’t walk anymore because the gangrene has covered her entire legs and the toes are just initial impairments. She’s expected not to be able to walk anymore in days.”

I looked at Mama and her eyes began to reveal shadows of fear and sorrow. The feel of losing her is imminent as she turned her back and bid goodbye. The fear of leaving is beaming from her heart. In time, I know, I will no longer see my mother walk with beauty and life. She said I should take care of myself and I nodded.

As Mama headed to the pathway, I felt a sting of regret and shame just right in my face. How many times have I asked my mother if she is alright? How many times have I gone to her side to extend comfort and love?

Mama’s old but her spirit is vibrant and strong. As she walked away, I realized that I should not wait for her to lose her toes before showing how much I love her. Seeing her vanish into the horizon, I whispered words she longed to hear and begged for the morning breeze to bring them right straight to her ears.

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