Mom's Story

MY MOTHER'S KEEPER
(2/12/08)


I would
hold her there
at the bathroom sink
and she would try
to put
some toothpaste
on her toothbrush
but most of it
would fall
to the counter
or the floor

silent
and unable
to stand on her own
she was certainly
still quite capable
of leaning all 90
stubborn pounds
away from
my attempts
to assist her
with something
that she was sure
she could do
for herself

bristles smeared
with a bit
of paste
she would start
her hand going
in the same revolutions
that she had used
for all those decades
of bedtime routine
but by then
she no longer knew
if the brush was
in her mouth
or not
and would furiously
circle the colored plastic
a few inches
in front
of her face
changing the angle
from time
to time
to correspond
with the different
groups
of teeth

when she
finished
the frenetic activity
I would hold
a glass of water
to her mouth
with a towel
under her chin
as she attempted
to rinse her mouth
of the toothpaste
that had never
entered

satisfied
she would then
stand motionless
in my arms
and wait for me
to wipe her face
then turn
and place her
on the toilet
frowning
all the while
as she
never liked
me helping her
with such
a personal chore

that done
I would finally
carry her off
to bed

as I got her
situated
the frown
would slowly dissipate
and I would kiss
her smoothed brow
and tell her
goodnight

today
I am still
grateful
for each
nightly task
that I am able
to perform easily
on my own
as tiresome
as they all
seem
to be

I thank God
and Mom
as I lie back
in the bed
and wonder
who will be
brushing
my teeth
tomorrow