My mother was the earth, a black, fertile and rich soil. She was born every year in the wheat, in apples, in corn, in goat and cow milk, in flowers, in roses, in lilacs, in everything the farmers of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and upstate delivered to the Union Square farmer’s market.
On the weekends I visited the nursing home where my mom spent her last two years. I would sit her in a wheelchair, wrap her up in a warm blanket, put a wool hat on her and take her out on the porch. We sat together, keeping warm by the waning autumn sun, its weak rays penetrating under the canvas striped canopy.
I held her wrinkled hand. She was already in that state where one doesn’t know what season it is, whether it’s morning or evening. She did not recognize people who were close, did not remember names. She called me by my father’s name, but I did not care. She knew that it was me by her side, and I did not need any external evidence.
Rarely she would raise her head, facing the sun, and asked in a low, broken-down, trembling voice: “How are you doing?”
“Everything is okay, Mom,” I would reply.
She asked me this question for decades. “How are you doing?” The answer was not important to her; it was enough to hear my voice to understand everything.
When I was studying to be a psychologist in a Pennsylvania college, abandoning my parents’ house to live in a dorm, mom called me every day: “How are you doing?”
“Everything is okay, mom.”
Everything really was fine back then; I seldom attended lectures, but frequented the bars a lot, bowled, and popped ecstasy with students in clubs. “Everything is okay, mom. I am fine.”