A Decade is not Enough

January 5, 2010
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For fifteen years my mom worked an eight hour day starting at 5:00 am opening our family-owned Greek restaurant. After waiting on 30 tables a day, she still glowed when she got home. Here, she started her second shift: cleaning up our toys left to be stepped upon, scrubbing our three bathrooms until they reeked of bleach, and always making sure dinner was on the table. She was transportation for soccer practice on Monday and Wednesday for me and Tuesday and Thursday for Nina.

Nina and I were bathing in the tub, laughing and squirting bubbles in each other’s eyes when our parents entered our sanctuary. My dad’s voice cracked when he started to speak; he couldn’t finish his words. Instead, my mom told us she was diagnosed with stage four cancer. I was eight and her words were foreign to me, but when I looked at my partner in crime, her expression made my insides tighten.

A week later, my mom came to get me from my neighbor’s house. When I ran up from the basement, I didn’t recognize the woman at the top of the staircase. Dark circles surrounded her eyes, her hand was fidgeting, and worst of all… a doll-like wig draped over her once silky blonde hair. That woman was my mom.

I tried to help the situation. When I got home from school, I headed strait up to my mom’s bedroom and offered a foot massage. Everyday. She eternally declined. Although she tried to refuse my services, I continuously had the laundry running and my outfits picked out for the next morning. If my mom was napping, I made sure to take down her phone messages in my neatest penmanship with accurate digits. Our final days together were spent wrapped up in her “bear blanket” and king size bed watching Lifetime Movie Network.

“Lex, we have to go,” my cousin quietly mumbled.

“Why, Les? The movie is about to start and we just got here,” I whispered.

Even in that dark theatre, I could slowly see one tear, black with mascara, run down her solemn face. I don’t remember exactly how the rest of that afternoon went, but I cannot forget how swollen and pink my face became after crying for three strait days up until my mom’s funeral. Her battle was lost to breast cancer at age 43 and mine was just beginning. It was my second year of junior high.

My mother was the most influential person in my life. She encouraged me to not be scared on my first day of Greek Camp. She taught me how to ride my bike. She portrayed the true meaning of warmth. Although I only knew her for eleven years, I was fortunate enough to spend those years as her daughter.

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