I was annoyed at my mother. Through no fault of hers, I was feeling cooped up in her apartment where I had come to look after my fading parent. I was wild to get out.
``Let’s go look at the sunset in the mountain park.’’ She came reluctantly, but she came. She toiled up the path to the benches, rocking from side to side like a little bear, my little bear. I didn’t, then, recognize Parkinson’s. We sat on the concrete bench and looked west over Albuquerque, the land sweeping from the Sandias behind us, to the great plain cut by the Rio Grande to Mount Taylor, rising to a point, unaccompanied by other mountains.
I got up to do my tai chi, wishing she would move with me. It would do her so much good. She never did want to learn about it for herself, but she watched me carefully.
Finally, she said, ``This bench is too hard,’’ and made her way slowly back down the path. I saw, on the far path, a young man striding up the mountain, maybe off for a hike. At this hour?
She stopped, turned her head and then her whole body as he walked steadily up and out of sight. Then she went back down the path in the red sunset light. The car door chunked. I finished, not cooped up anymore. In the car, I turned to her.
``Were you watching out for me back there, that man?’’ She smiled, looking straight ahead.
``I was,’’ she said.