By Kevina “Liz” Mitchell, Employee Benefits Account Specialist
Nava sat staring out of the window, some sunny Sunday. The trees had begun to shed their clothing in preparation to sleep in Winter’s embrace. The fallen leaves danced and played at the tickling of the wind. The sky was blue. And her coffee was especially delicious that day.
She cupped her coffee cup in her aged hands. It was her favorite coffee cup. Her son, now 43, had made it for her in his high school art class. It had all the potential of youth and dreaming, but in execution it bore the marks of inexperience, and the clumsiness of growing fingers. The handle was crooked and thin, useful only for aesthetics. The lip was too thick in one place and thin enough to slice her lips in another. She learned that the hard way. There was a spot opposite of the handle that was perfect, and that is where she drank from. He had painted it to look like Robin from Teen Titans.
He had watched that darned show until the DVD’s wore out, and then begged and pleaded that his parents replace them. His room was also covered in merchandise, that fortunately Nava and her husband hadn’t bought. He got good grades in school by day and slung French fries by night to fund his expensive habit.
Art was never her son’s strength, but he had tried so hard. The left eye was proportionate while the right eye was…interesting. Overall, Robin looked like he not only had a lazy eye, but that he had also ingested a cocktail of illicit drugs. Even so, her little boy had presented it to her with defiant pride at making something for his mom. She could still remember the cheap paper mache he had wrapped it in, and how he had made her sit down and listen to a prepared speech. It was a birthday gift. And it was precious.
Nava smiled at the memories, still staring out of the window. These days, her son was busy with four children, two dogs, and a wife. Running a successful business on top of that. There wasn’t much time to visit his mother, although he always made the effort to. Nava was looking forward to seeing them in a month or two. Though they lived 3 hours away, the visits were few and far between, and as she continued to age, her daughter-in-law had become more vocal about her concern that Nava lived alone.
She looked down at her face reflected in the coffee. The eyes were now wrinkled and creased, but still burned with vitality and warmth. She had the same white streak of hair on her hairline as her mother, the rest a glory of gray and salt, falling in waves around her face. Her smile lines were deep from a lifetime of smiling and laughing. Her nose, though barely noticeable was permanently crooked. Still a beautiful woman, even at the ripe age of 79.
She looked up and let her eyes wander around the interior of her home. Her late husband had built it with his own hands, and they had created a piece of heaven within those walls. After 52 years of marriage, her darling Henrich had shed his mortality, and now she lived there alone. Her son and daughter-in-law were becoming more insistent that she move in with them, and it was appealing to Nava. She loved her family tremendously, and they were admittedly all she had left. But every notch, every nail, every corner of her house was full of memories. She couldn’t bear to let them go. She couldn’t bear to forget. First steps and homecomings, the first anniversary and the 52nd. It was all too precious.
Her life had been filled with great difficulty and pain, but there was so much beauty to be found. It was all too precious to say goodbye to. Though the dimming of her mind was imperceptible and slow, a desperation to hold onto the intangible had set in, because these were Nava’s greatest treasures, these memories. Where her Henrich now lived. Where her greatest battles were won. Precious…It was all too precious.