She sat with her head bowed, as if in peaceful contemplation of the hand she held. Her fingers ran up and down his arm, across the back of his hand, and over his knuckles. Up, down. Across, over. Up, down. Across, over. A physical Morse code that willed her fuzzy mind to remember. He said he didn’t think she knew who he was. And, indeed, his name seemed lost to disease and age. But, his was the hand she held. His ceaseless chatter was the voice that elicited a knowing look from the depths of her distant gaze. He was the one to whom she babbled and gestured in a nurturing, yet guiding way–in the way that only a mother can.
Maybe his mother didn’t know certain things anymore. Maybe she didn’t even know her own son’s name, but she still knew him. When she was asked who he was, she babbled something about a little boy and gestured with her hands that she knew him when he was small. And later, as she and I sat in the late afternoon sun, she looked at him from across the room and clearly said, “That one’s mine.”
I saw the other side of motherhood that day. The side that returns to the primal bond between mother and child. The side that transcends insignificant details like names and jobs and other titles that we think define who we are. She had returned to the place of real knowing–the place in the heart that can only be reached through a process of purification. The place that we find when we learn another new life is growing within, or when a loved one passes from this world to the next, or when a disease or an accident helps us to become like a little child again.
She didn’t know his name, but she knew he was hers–and that’s all that any mother’s heart needs to know.
Image credit: Pixabay, CCO Public Domain