The Day Before Mother’s Day

I place an arm under each underarm

Spread my legs a bit and plant

My feet steadily on the ground.

I lift,

firmly yet gently.

She is thin, but tall, several inches taller than I.

Her skin is soft as tissue paper and just as crinkly.

Her scent is warm and familiar,

Like the lap that gave me comfort 40 years ago.

We are standing now,

Her head leaning right

Into the crook of my neck

For support.

We walk.

I am reminded of Tim Conway

On the Carol Burnett Show

And how we laughed at the laborious, teeny, tiny steps

His “Old Man” would take.

And I feel the tremendous effort

She undergoes to do the same.

Slowly we dance.

I lead as she follows,

Hesitantly,

For she is afraid

And doesn’t trust

A daughter

Who has not always been there

To catch her fall.

“Feel the back of the chair against your legs?”

She grunts or moans or nods

A response.

“You can sit now. You can rest.”

She wavers, then drops, drawing me

Toward her.

She lands.

I unlock the wheels

Lower the foot rests.

And place her feet

One then the other.

I move behind the chair

And push her down the hall

Toward the bathroom.

We stop.

I move to the front of the chair.

And remove her feet from each rest,

One then the other.

I lift the rests,

And lock each wheel,

And stand before her.

I place an arm under each underarm

And wrap her right arm around my shoulder.

I hold her in place

And feel her shallow breath on my neck.

“I’m going to lift you now, OK?”

She grunts or moans or nods

A response.

I pull. She falls

into me.

I catch

Our reflection

In the mirror.

This forced embrace

looks like the deepest love imaginable.

Perhaps it is.

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