A Tiny Smile

They sat there. Each to themselves, but together.  She couldn’t tell if her older brother was reflecting or questioning in his mind.  There was no nervous movement.  He had been here before.  He glanced at their mother with concern in his eyes, but he was hard to read right now.  It was disconcerting.  He was especially quiet.  He held his feelings in like most men.

But this was her older brother.  The one that could glance at the salt shaker on the table and she’d pass it to him, words unspoken.  The one that watched over her as they were growing up.  The one that helped her fish and hunt and learn carpentry.  She should know what he was thinking.
Her mother sat in the only upholstered chair.  Eyes closed.  She had been here before as well.  If she wasn’t half dozing, she would be praying.  Her faith was strong.  It was no longer a question of fighting, it was now simply acceptance and peace.
The younger woman rose and moved around the small room.  Her fingers trailed along the paper covered bed, and she moved over to the artwork on the wall.
She stood before a garden scene. A young mother and child were gathering flowers.  An interested puppy watched them both.  The rural scene was touching and she felt tears in her eyes.  She blinked rapidly trying to avoid wiping her eyes.  Her brother would notice she was crying and she didn’t want that.  She wanted to have her mother’s strength and her brother’s courage to face this.  As the baby of the family, never mind her actual age, she couldn’t bear the thought of not having her mother’s presence in her life.   Oh, there was slim hope.  Very slim.  They’d hear more details in a few minutes.
She leaned into the painting.  The puppy reminded her of her own dogs… sable and white English Shepherds.  Devoted.  Faithful.  Independent in their own way.  Loving.  Very loving.  Happy.  Yes, that was it.  They lived their lives happy and devoted.  A tear slid down her face.
She studied the painting again.  Was it the mother/child bond that touched her?  Another tear slipped out and she blinked again.  Was it the painting’s rendition of the beginning stage of a new life that hurt?  Was it the misty mountains that cast a gloom onto the glowing light that permeated the garden?  Was it gloom or light beyond the mountains?  She couldn’t help it… she quickly wiped the tears from her face and glanced backwards.
Her mother still sat, hands folded, eyes closed, the grey in her dark hair accented by the room’s light.  The edges of her mouth moved, in prayer or fleeting smile, it was impossible to tell.  Her brother was returning her glance.  He saw the tears and tried a small smile, reassuring her.  That was his job.
She smiled back.  A tiny smile.  With another tear.
A knock came on the door, and the doctor entered.
Snapshot 2010-07-18 23-26-58w
This painting by Robert Duncan truly did hang in Mom’s doctor’s office.  I only recently discovered it again, his name lost in the tumble of thoughts I had back then.

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