It’s hard to acknowledge that mom has grown old. When did it happen? It seems as though she went directly from independent woman and having to leave her old neighborhood to someone who needs daily help. I was gone for years, so I didn’t see the gradual changes. I didn’t see fear creeping in through the cracks in her skin, until it clouded her eyes and her mind. I still looked at her through the eyes of a three year old, viewing her as the beautiful fearless mother posing for the family portrait in 1958.
Just a few years ago she still lived in Buela’s old house, next door to Doña Antonia’s. The old houses are still there, even the little house where the comadres gathered to quilt is still standing. The houses, though in need of repairs and paint, have weathered far better than the ladies who lived there. Doña Antonia, Maria, Emma, Kikita and Tía Mary, are all gone. Amelia and Ester, moved to the big city. Chelo, my mother is the only one left in town.
As I sit visiting with mom, I remember arriving one day, calling my mother’s name as I went from room to room. By the time I got to the back porch, I worried, “Something’s happened to mom.” Then I heard conversation coming from the back casita next door. When I poked my head through the door, there I found mom quilting. This circle is where she found her sense of place, her sense of belonging after leaving her home and her husband of thirty years.
As the threads of her life start to unravel, she reminds me of a much loved faded quilt. Like a cover whose lost its luster and been discarded, she too will be make her exit one day. Where will I find warmth, when the last dama in the colcha circle is no longer here…