“Give me your hands,” my mother said as she reached for my aunt’s left hand and placed in hers. My mother clutched it as she reached for her small container of Vaseline in her purse. She took it out, scooped out a bit and began rubbing it on.
“Careful, my hand hurt. My arthritis,” my aunt exclaimed.
“You have arthritis in both of you hands?” My mom asked.
“Yes. They always hurt and I’m always cold.”
My mother gently finished applying ointment to my aunt’s left hand and moved to the right. She carefully covered every inch of my aunt’s dry, neglected hands to make sure they were properly moisturized. Then, she fixed her jacket to make sure she was warm.
My mother stepped up so effortless into the role of caregiver for her sister, who is nearly two decades older, I thought. And, she did it with care, compassion and vulnerability.
I wondered if I’d be able to do the same for her as she battles Cancer. I didn’t have to learn be a daughter. Before I was anything else in this world I had this title. But, being a source of strength for my mom is new. She has been my rock as I coped with chronic illness and chronic pain for more than two decades. I’ve never had to do much for her. Now I have a chance to repay her for all she’s done for me. I just hope I’ve learned from her example.
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