chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

my mother’s earrings…

earring Long after she had been abandoned by her ability to walk unaided or string together sensible sequences of words, my mother was animated by the persistent desire for beauty. More than once I found her perched on the edge of her bed, smiling proudly, mirror in hand. Luminous green eye shadow rouged her cheeks or scrawled jaggedly up through the faint trace of her eyebrow and wiggled off into her fuzzy hairline; coral lipstick smeared her smile.

Each night we labored over the next day’s clothing—black pants or blue? t-shirt or blouse? And then came the accessories: necklace, scarf and, always, earrings. The earrings seemed a symbol of all she had been and all she had not managed to be: artist, happy, eccentric, in control. In her top drawer, the earrings lived in a flat, clear plastic box divided into a grid of earring-size compartments, the lid long-since abandoned as too difficult.
At any moment she might demand to have the box brought to her, or launch with her walker into the perilous journey across the room, to stand, frail and wobbling, before the open drawer, examining and sorting, lost on a private trail illuminated by the sparks of these tiny bits of color. At 88, she could not really see, but her fingers on the earrings ignited some lingering shred of memory—a talisman of hope—as she lifted them out of the box one by one and dangled them, hand trembling, in front of her face, considering each one before dropping it back into place.

In the morning, cleaned up and assembled at last—soft black leggings, long red sweater with embroidery at one shoulder, sturdy black athletic shoes, a neat dab of lipstick and a funny pair of earrings with orange bottle caps and tiny swinging teapots—she would begin her slow pilgrimage to the kitchen, smiling eagerly, as if she might find a lover awaiting her instead of her solitary breakfast table—a lover who would be dazzled by her youth and her artful beauty, who would reward with undying affection and admiration her transformation from buck-toothed tomboy to graceful maiden.

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