The old woman walked slowly with a cane and a heavy limp. Less of a limp actually as a drag. Her left foot bent in at the ankle making it look odd and drag along the floor as she drew it forward, step after agonizing step.
She looked so fragile to me as she came through the door of the hospital. The early morning sun streamed through the tall windows and she caught my eye. Her eyes were pale and blue like a tropical sea. Her smile was sweet and tainted with that look of uncertainty that is reserved for the very old and/or the very sick.
For an instant I felt compelled to aid her in whatever way possible. She appeared so alone and vulnerable.
My mind entertained ideas of her in her youth as a strong, vibrant woman. A mother perhaps, who bore children and the weight of the world upon her sturdy, feminine shoulders.
I was struck by the realities of age and time. I thought of my own grandmothers, both gone now. Their strength. Their presence. Their authoritative wisdom, matched in intensity only by their unprecedented gentleness.
I then let my mind meander on this train of thought, beginning to ponder the significant power of women, of mothers. How our mothers, the creators of life, the very epitomes of strength and vitality, somehow lose their independent, indomitable air and gain a new power. A power so painfully poignant. The power to shift into their own softness. The pure unadulterated capacity to embrace their own profound vulnerability.
I sat with this idea playing out in my mind. I sat beside my father whose own vulnerability of late is another story in and of itself. I sat there, being a mother, a daughter, a woman, affected by the very basic realities of human existence. I sat there and I opened to the sorrow and the glory that comes with that depth of understanding. I sat. Contemplative and awe struck. I felt my own heart soften. My willingness to feel was deepened. I was awash in sweet, excruciating appreciation. Alive. However fleeting the sensation, I was undoubtedly, quite alive this morning.