Margaret

On the train, a mother of three, at least. All boys, they run around the small area between seats and all talk at once. Their love and respect for her is as clear as their propensity to not listen well, both shown in their attention given to her just as they disregard her urges to quiet down, talk one at a time, sit still. Yet she does all this without so much as a falter in her pleasant smile, given an extra motherly sort of oomph by the rounded face in which it sits and which bounces often to a light chuckle. The paradoxes continue: stress obvious in the disheveled, worn, green checkered shirt mismatched with the rest of her thrift store clothing, in the the bags under her eyes and wrinkles to match, in her unbrushed and thinning hair, died red in futility; and yet, she is utterly content. She sits, knitting happily — purple yarn, maybe some cap or cozy or other — as her kids make enough ruckus to try Mother Teresa’s patience. After just a moment watching the scene I became mesmerized: here I was observing someone truly happy with life. Then she lifted her knitting, tipped it over and placed it on her head — it is a cap after all — for sizing. And with a sinking heart I understood. She was knitting a yarn cap for herself in the middle of summer. Her hair was not thinning from stress, but from chemo therapy. Dyed, not in defiance of age, but as a last hurrah before the chemicals would completely wreak their havoc. She does not get angry with her boys because she knows these may be among her last moments with them. She is happy with life because it is now precious to her.

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