Vignettes

This Old Man

     I know he’s just an old man to you,” my mother tells the nurse upon placing my father in a nursing home. “But he was young once like you. He was the captain of his college basketball team and a captain in the Army Air Corps. He was a director of physical education and a coach. And even though he’s old now and you don’t see him like that, I still do. So I want you to treat him with dignity and respect.”

     She is choked up as she says this, and I am struck by the tenderness with which she remembers. By the intensity of her commitment, indeed her love. This is a side of my mother I have never seen. Her vulnerability both scares and pleases me. For if she is vulnerable, she is not invincible as I have always believed. Yet if she is not vulnerable, she is less than honest with herself and me.

  

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