The last year of Mom’s life, in spite of aggressive treatment, the cancer wove its way up from her lungs to her throat.
Earlier on in treatment, my ears cupped her words like my fingers cupped the fragrant baby blue coffee cup I sipped from. Initially, I would gush out things, information from Zoey’s latest tea party to the creative writing course i was enrolled in. As time went on, I asked her what Daddy’s and her song had been in college, how she had felt when I had a positive pregnancy test only six weeks after my honeymoon, what her iced pumpkin cookie recipe entailed. The floodgates of speech were easily opened when she was presented with even a simple question. Her faded blue eyes would mist over any time she would recall something about my dad.
One new aspect to her personality was the hats she wore. Even before her hair started to fall out, she took some money from savings, and got herself several hats. Now, before getting sick, she never picked up the habit of wearing hats like dad always did, or my sister with her Fedoras, or me with my feminine hats with styles form the 40’s and 50’s. She got a beautiful straw sun hat that she wore all year long when it was bright outside. It ended up turning her already pale skin into the milky, ivory of old china. To look less pale, she would often tap her lips with a deep rose lip gloss, and slick on some blush in a similar color. She had given up eye makeup by the time her lashes fell out.
In spite of the smile she continued to beam, our family could see the shake in her hand, and the sweat that would break out at even a leisurely stroll. Sometimes, grief would rise up in me, and I would exit to the bathroom, trying to dam up the waterfall threatening to come out.
When she got tired, she would sit on our beige vinyl chairs and run her toes back and forth in the baby pool I had left there when my daughter was four.