93 – 40 = me

How am I like my mother?  A question posed by my girlfriend who is trying her best to get to know me.  I might have said some of what’s below, had I the presence of mind to do so.

Ma and Me

My 93 year-old mother is 40 years my senior and a few years ago I noticed sometimes when I stand up I make a sound that is much like hers.

A sound she makes just after standing, just after her knees creak the original knee, not the one replaced after a near fatal car accident 15 years ago.  It’s a kind of “uh” laid on top of a breath expelled on the rise from the seating position.

The first time it happened to me, I remember laughing out loud.  Laughing aloud that is after I was completely standing.

“I’m making my mother’s sounds. Oh boy!” I said into the room where my youngest daughter was sitting,

“Mom what was that sound?”  Yes, the sound was loud enough to be heard outside my body.

My mother is basically a quiet woman, her light brown eyes bright with an energy she can still manifest in short bursts.  Her most recent burst was a trip to my youngest daughter’s graduation from Simmons College in Boston this past May 18.  Mom seemed to zoom along with her walker taking the steps just ahead of her.

“Ma you can get the one with wheels so you can just push instead of lifting it.”

“No, no.  The wheels scare me.  If I fall, your brother says that’s it for me. I’ll break something and be in the hospital.  I’m not falling because I still have a few things to do.”  She and my brother share a dark humor deeply based in catastrophe.

I tear up thinking how close the end could be.  93 years is a really long time to be alive I want to make every day count.  It’s not that she couldn’t have died before, but now the possibility seems almost imminent with each day.

“But you asked me, how am I like my mother?” I reminded her and myself.  I think I started to answer and drifted into a story of one sort or another.

“I don’t know if I really know.”  That’s what I remember saying, but now I’m sure the answer is my mother and I believe education comes before everything else.  So she sacrificed for us and is watching her garden grow.  Several of her children have received their degrees and three of her 5 grandchildren.  I will receive mine next year.  She tells me she will be there.

“Pretty good for an ‘ole lady who only went to the 8th grade.”  That’s what she’d say if I asked her, but I don’t because in this we are alike.  We don’t say what we feel most any day.

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