Friday, December 17, 2010

The Week Before My Next Christmas

The day started with snow and deer tracks and the thwack of my mother’s cane, building in crescendo, on the wall between our bedrooms.

It fell, the snow did, without vengeance or sound; it brought no trouble.  Instead, it spilled through the empty spaces as softly as an eyelash fluttering to a cheek.  Light and quiet and intimate.   I saw all this as I stood in front of the lone window in my room, listening to the thumping blows from the cane and wondering what could be so important so early.

Still thinking of the prints in the snow and wishing I had seen the deer there, pawing at the ground looking for the candy of fallen acorns, I opened her door and asked, "Are you OK, mom?  What do you need?"

“My dog” she said, “my dog wants to go out now.”  Her voice like parchment, her words a plea to be stronger, healthier, younger.  

I realized I was holding my breath.  I am afraid for us both when she summons me at odd hours.  "Are you sure you don't need anything else?", I exhaled.

"I need nothing but the dog to go out,” she sighed as she laid her cane down on the side of the bed where a husband would be.  “Just the dog, if you’re not too busy.”

It was early.  Barely daybreak.  I led the dog, eager as an airport cabbie, to the door.   He jumped off the crumbling steps with a grateful bark.  

The snow fell throughout the morning and into the afternoon, concealing everything except the taller, anemic weeds that refused, like my mother, to bend under the weight.