My Mom's become more and more unresponsive lately. She sleeps a lot and when she's awake, she gazes off into space. When I call her name to gain her attention, she searches the air around her as if blind, unable to find me from even a foot away. I usually take her face in my hands and keep moving myself into her eye sight until she can focus on me. When she does there is recognition and she usually expresses a "there you are" surprise, like I've appeared out of thin air.
Decent conversations are all but non-existent now too. She'll answer questions like "how are you," or "how was your day." I might receive an "I'm doing well," or "it was nice," or she might start babbling gibberish.
And then, once in a while, poof! An amazing blast of clarity. Tonight was one of those instances. We chit chatted the entire time I fed her dinner. When she finished, I stood from the table.
"Whew," My Mom said with a whistle. I thought she would follow it up with a "Man, am I full." As always, skinny Winny had cleaned her plate. Instead she was sizing me up. "You're gaining weight kid," she said patting her stomach. I took a few steps back and looked down at my white shorts. I had just returned from vacation where I had indeed picked up a few pounds. She doesn't consider the comment critical. It's just a fact.
"Well, your legs don't look too bad," she said taking in the full picture.
I fessed up that I needed to shape up a bit, then told my vain Mom she was lucky that she was skinny.
"Are you kidding?" she blurts. "Look at this," she says grabbing at the side of each thigh. "Look at this." The woman weighs a mere 80 pounds. There was nothing to grab except loose skin. She doesn't know where she lives, what year it is, or what she just ate for dinner five minutes ago, but she knows popular opinion says you're supposed to be thin. I think back to my college days of trying to lose weight and how she'd revel in telling me about the diets from her day. I tried her favorite, the green bean diet. I think another time she had me try the grapefruit diet.
"No Mom," I stifled a laugh. "I assure you, you're skinny."
"Well, thank God," she says emphatically, letting out a sigh of relief.
I stop and think about recent outrage over certain magazines airbrushing photos of models to make them look even skinnier than they already are. I think of the very legitimate concern over today's young girls being too wrapped up over body image. I look at My Mom patting her own stomach now, ensuring she's still looking good at 90. I think of generations before her using wooden stays, corsets and girdles to tighten their tummies. The battle of the bulge is nothing new.