June 26, 2019Mom hobbled down the hallway, her hand brushed along the wall for balance. A foot landed heavy on the floor. The other followed with a scuff of her slipper.
My fingers paused on the keyboard and my shoulders tightened. I glanced to the right corner of the screen. 2:10 PM. Mom's caregiver had left.
"Come sit while I work," I said when she reached my study door.
She burrowed into the recliner behind me, her favorite place for watching birds in the Bradford pear and redbud.
"The feeders are almost empty again," she said.
That was my mother, always thinking of those she loved. And she loved birds. Now she was all mine until my husband walked through the kitchen door at six for dinner.
For three hours, I logged income and expenses, paid payroll, and returned email while I answered her same question repeatedly. At 5 p.m., in sudden fatigue, I swiveled my chair toward her.
"I'm sorry Mom, but I have to lay down awhile. Working with numbers wears me out."
She blinked hard. Only a migraine or flu would send me to bed in April's daylight when my gardens needed grooming.
"Okay, honey. I'll take a nap here."
Growing up, my mother, sisters, and I napped only when ill. Dad never did.
"Spaghetti is on the stove for dinner," I said and climbed the stairs, knowing she wouldn't remember and couldn't smell the sauce.
My bedroom was dark when Mom appeared at my bed.
"Iris, are you okay? Can I help you put your pajamas on?" she asked.
"No thanks, Mom. I'm okay. Just very tired."
The maternal pulse of her kiss on my cheek drew warm tears that trailed behind my ears.
I heard three taps of her toothbrush on the sink, a signal of day's end I knew from childhood. She found her bed. More tears fell when I had no strength to rise and help her with her pajamas and kiss her goodnight.
My mother passed the following June 2007, surrounded by her five daughters.
Soon after, I hired an intern to work our lavender farm. A former WWOOF'er, "willing worker on organic farm," Cindy told stories from her WWOOFing adventures. One granted sage advice.
"Women own many of the small organic farms," she said. "One farmer I worked for slept the night in a big chair. She went right to the field the next morning. Sometimes she didn't change clothes for days. I've never seen anyone work that hard. The farm was her life."
Although I've not made a habit of sleeping in my clothes, there are nights I have no push left after I climb the stairs. I submit and fall onto my pillow.
Dear Reader, farming is one part of my life. As long as my senses serve me well, my husband will never find me sleeping in dirty garden clothes. Not in my reading chair, nor any other place.
And perchance he does, he knows where to find my pajamas.
Email Iris at email@example.com.