Scarred stumps, where once hung legs so powerful that they carried a family.
Matriarch. Mother. Godmother. Aunt. So many roles… all of them overlapping: provider.
Now… forgotten… neglected.
All of her wards, victims of affluenza-induced amnesia, can’t remember her sacrifices. They scorn her. Her wheelchair? An eyesore. Her crumbling porch? An embarrassment.
Her? A pox on their past, to which they’d gladly apply hydroquinone if it’d guarantee her fading away forever. Not that she feels visible anyway. She sees me though.
Her eyes fixating on to the large basket in my arms. A glimmer of recognition, fleeting, followed by absolute chaos. Tear kissed cheek… rivulets: Flowing along grooves that must have, long before, been laugh lines. There is no laughter here however.
I’m not even sure there was much English. No. But, my heart translated relief and her realising that she’d be able to eat this Christmas.
Relief… and sorrow.
I felt so heavy. Even sharing the same space as she wore heavily on my heart. I didn’t trust myself to speak… for fear of bursting into tears.
It was Christmas Eve.
My friends, peers, and I had organised food hampers for less fortunate families. I’d delivered thirty thus far, but had been adamant that I wouldn’t take pictures or write about it. Writing about it, I’d said, could only be misconstrued as a self-congratulatory, facetious, circle-jerk and, personally, I had no desire to give the naysayers more to talk about. But as I stood there with basket in hand, its bounty contrasting so starkly with her barren cupboards, this entry wrote itself.
In that moment, I’d received the only gift I would need this year: Perspective, wrapped gingerly in the knowledge that I needed to do more.
WE, as a community, needed to do more.
As I left her home, marigolds bloomed beneath her rotted porch.
They were us.