The story took but a few seconds. It was there, waiting to be told, in my rearview mirror.
The glance behind as I leave is a given. Perhaps I do it out of superstition. Perhaps I do it...just in case. I did it on Sunday for all the usual reasons and then some, probably borne out the sentimentality of the season.
In those moments, I noted the changes. A decade’s worth of them. Changes which I have not perceived when looking at her full on, but which could not be denied from the angle that allows for looking back over your shoulder. Slower on her feet as she shuffles back into the yard, her shoulders struggling for posture under a head full of worries that I know are all centred on my situation.
I felt the reversal of our roles keenly in the days of the Christmas just past. She helping me, rather than the other way around. We had enjoyed a fleeting period when I held the strength, the ability and the energy – when my youth relieved her from a lifetime of toil.
Now we have upset the natural order. She asks nothing of me. She implores me to rest, to stay in from the cold, to leave any lifting of my machine or of shopping bags to my brother. I woke each morning to the sound of her taking out ashes, carrying in fuel for the fires and preparing food - chores that should fall to me, while she sleeps and dreams to an hour befitting of a grandmother.
She doesn’t complain. She carries me, just as she has done since the day she brought me home from the hospital. The baby girl she always wanted.