Only my mother can try and negotiate favorable terms for her lawn, possibly at my risk. I’m up on a ladder to investigate why a rain gutter isn’t participating. (Thank you hurricane level downpour. The humidity seemed much less stifling afterwards.)
Mom is pretending her seventy-something arm strength is going to fortify the ladder. She’s got her fists curled around the top of the “A”. Should I begin to wobble Mom will presumably jump in.
“Are there any leaves?”
No Mom. But I could confirm water had not moved in some time. Underneath the clear water a deep olive base greeted me. And so I poked my hand about to explore.
Cold. Almost like lake water.
Slightly slimy. I could live with it.
As I moved my hand to the right, looking down the eight feet or so I was perched, I took one step up. I needed better access. High heels procreate in my closet for good reason.
My mom chose this time to sharply inhale a breath. With her forceful exhale, “BE CAREFUL!”
With that thought in mind I folded my hand as if I was holding a sock puppet. Scooping cautiously I picked up .. sludge.
Triumphant I shared it with Mom. When she couldn’t quite see from the driveway I released my fingers.
The sloppy wet kisses of a previous fall landed on the bright green grass.
“Don’t drop it on the grass! Let me go get something for you.”
My humor got the best of me. Precarious as the position felt I offered, “Moooooom!”. Countless daughters have wailed this sound. I was no mood.
I couldn’t understand how clean grass mattered. Earlier I wanted to crawl into bed. A nap had been erased from the calendar and I wanted it. (I’ve craved one since December. Ain’t happening.) Cleaning sludge felt like a trick. My father had encouraged me to visit the lilies my mother had planted by the fence.” Go ahead. Go outside and see what see wants to show you.”
Not flowers. While nice I was lured under false pretense.
And with this she nodded.
(I had no intention to hold a hostage. But her focused expression pressed me on. I could surely figure this home ownership task out.)
My hand returned to the gutter, but deeper this time. (Mind you, no gloves.) As my hand reached into the drainage I felt suction. When I pulled my wrist (as I had gone much deeper this time) water immediately drained out.
As if the Mets were winning my mother let a wallop out. She surprised me. At seventy four I learn something everything day from her. This minor (almost trivial) exercise had made her smile.
I quite enjoyed seeing my mother smile.
Down on the ground I examined my pile of mush. It reminded me of baby poo sans the odor. After inquiring how to clean up I moved said sludge from the pristine blades of grass. (With good hope we’ll suffocate other non-compliant grass. My Mom is very serious when it comes to her roses. Don’t. Get. In. The. Way.)
Inside I recounted the story, sharing a blurry photo this time with Dad.
“I’d get up there but I’m afraid to.”
Like dead air the sentence emptied my sail. I knew some of the reasons he might fear climbing a ladder. Falling. Breaking a bone. Osteoporosis. Age.
I had nothing to respond with.
I’m lucky to have my have my parents around. Moments like this remind me time will pass and I will eventually just miss them. With every passing day I’m honored to be with them.
This was the view after the rain.