The Daily Exercise…


I saw a daughter walking with her mother. Their haircuts were the same, though one was white and one was black. The face under the white hair was confused, lost in trying to find the significance of their actions here on the street in the sunny afternoon. Her daughter pulled her on, the tension visible in her face and the tautness of their two arms meeting over the “v” of space between them.

I recognized the face of the daughter, it was the one I make when my options are out and toddlers must tag along and their short legs become, somehow, a personal insult. I recognized duty born of love, duty that beats desire every day of the week. I recognized the conflict in the daughter’s face between impatience and requirement. There was no space for selfishness in this walk.

I saw how easy it would be to be impatient with someone who doesn’t understand, can’t understand. I saw how much effort it must take to keep latch over her tongue to prevent herself from voicing an unreasonable frustration to an unreasonable mind.

It was a sad picture. And it was a beautiful picture.

I thought about the long space of time before the daughter’s memories had ever begun, when she had been the one pulled against resistance, not understanding why they had to leave her pretty game, not comprehending the patience with which her mother led her.

And now it was the daughter’s turn to spend love on a mind that wouldn’t remember. It was the daughter’s turn to be unable and sometimes unwilling to explain again why it is important to keep the old legs moving, the aged heart pumping. The same street where mother learned was now daughter’s space to trust in the importance of this relationship.

There’s a reason. And when she can’t immediately remember it she trusts. It’s there, she found it once and when she has the chance, later, in quiet, in silence, she knows she’ll remember the reason she does all this again.

I wondered if my daughter would ever have to do this for me. I thought I should write about it here and now in case the moment comes and my mind is too lost to discuss it with her.

It’s a sad picture. And it’s a beautiful picture.

2 responses »

  1. Brilliant writing as usual Barbara, and this one hit home for me. Thanks for the delicate insertion of the lump in my throat as I recalled my mother’s recall and mental acuity slipping away.


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