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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mothers, Daughters, and Green Toenails

I have the teensiest strip of green nail polish at the tips of my big toes. It isn't a New Mexican pedicure or anything like that, but the remains of one I had way back last August.

My mom was in the last stages of lung cancer and I took a couple days off from being the caregiver. I was tired, grieving, and needed a distraction so sister-in-law Pattie suggested a pedicure place. The pedicurist laughed when I admired my shiny green toenails and joked, "There's a fungus among us." The next day we went to a Chinese leg and foot massage place where they pummeled and brutalized us and we obediently paid twenty dollars.

I haven't had a pedicure since that August experience, not because we are here in New Mexico and it's hard to just hop down to the local nail salon, but because the green on my toenails is a link to a time when my mom was still alive. Two weeks after that pedicure, she was dead. And I decided not to get a pedicure until the polish was gone.

There's about an eighth of an inch left, an excellent pedicure to have lasted so long, and the day after Mothers' Day I will finally snip away the last bit of green.

When I was born, I was separated from my mother with a snip of the umbilical cord and I cried. It's not exactly the same, but in a way I suppose clipping those thin crescents of green nail polish will be severing the connection between my mom living then and me living in the now. I will cry, realizing I am no longer defined as the daughter, but as a mother, whose daughter will someday take care of me when I am old.

When the end gets near, I will send her off for a pedicure.

3 comments:

  1. Mothers are a precious commodity. We each get only one. Mothers can also be a crap shoot. Some of them are good. Sadly, some of them are not. And then there are a few -- mothers like yours and mine -- who can only be described as sublime. They're both gone and we miss them like mad, but they have both contributed to every good thing that is resident within us. Thank you, Mom.

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  2. aawww theer...i remember that day. i laughed when i recalled our massage...how we thought we were going to get just a leg and foot massage and how our books were quietly and politely taken from our hands and we were gently guided into a more prone position only to be "pummeled and brutalized"! i cried when i think of you severing one of the last tangible memories of your mom's last days...even if it is a crescent moon of left over green nail polish. my heart and thoughts have been with you off and on this day... i you are able find peace and joy in your memories of you and your mom...in doing so you can never loose her...she'll always be close. be well, always, your theer

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  3. I don't know what to say. I was touched! Shela

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