We walked the other day, just me and my mother. We walked from one sunny end of the street to the end of the block, where my red car was parked. We didn’t walk too far as the cats would follow us, and we didn’t want them crossing the street or turning the corner. “Black Kitty” and “Gray Kitty,” she called them. They were never formally named.
“I didn’t know you had a red car.” She said, with approval. I’d had this car for nine years. I nodded my head in enthusiasm, “Yes! I love my red car.” She liked that I had a red car, it implied passion.
Step by step, slow steps.
I moved a hair from the front of her face. Her glasses fogged up with the mask. It was earlier in the day, so there were fewer people, and we left the masks on our chins for most of the time.
The star jasmine was in full bloom.
There was one section of our walk where the street buckled because of the tree roots. She climbed up the rise and down slowly, carefully, as though it were the side of the mountain. Coming down was harder for her, maybe a sense of falling. I held her arm and her walker and guided her down. “You won’t fall, Ma. I’ve got you.”
We stopped to rest, the sun warm at our backs. She often asked if my feet were cold when I wore sandals on our walks. I tried to remember to wear shoes instead, so she wouldn’t fixate on my naked toes.
“How far?” She asked.
“Just to the second tree.” I answered.
“Just to the patch of green.”
“Just to my red car, in front of the house. Then we can go home.”
She was relieved to hear that home was within striking distance. Sometimes, I would ease past home and tried to extend the walk a little, but she was tired, so I didn’t press her.
I don’t know if she enjoyed these walks. They were good for her, and for me. But I don’t know if she enjoyed them for their own sake. She pointed out a yogurt container that someone dropped on the grass. She read out a rental sign as we walked past, “Three bedrooms, three baths, luxury rental.” She laughed. “That’s not for us.” She still had her sense of humor.
We stopped to smell the roses, many were unscented. But the jasmine was in full bloom, rioting over the fence. And we were taking a walk.