her mother the mathematician


Her mother.

Intensely pragmatic a problem-solver a mathematician an engineer by training and trade the only woman in classrooms and meetings for years for decades for the whole of her career and still even still even as the only woman called considered looked at as intimidating by her male colleagues yes her mother is a person who takes things apart and puts them back together to see how they work she was she is she remains capable analytical tough.

And then there is her heart.

She is curled up beside Mother in the rental house on the family trip late at night everyone else in bed little by little pouring out to Mother some of the stuff about some stuff that is her stuff the stuff the stuff the stuff that is weighing on her middle-aged heart.

Mother starts to fix it is her instinct it’s to be expected after all and the daughter suddenly 30 years younger suddenly 14 years old again pushes back without padding or packaging or very much kindness at all then realizes apologizes sighs or cries or both.

Mother pauses.

She is a mother and she is always watching her children including this one this child who has not been a child for a very long time.

Sees her daughter working hard in this part and that part and the other part of life sees her

analyze tinker analyze tinker analyze tinker tinker tinker sees her

with duct tape band-aids super glue cement truck doing her own fixing where she can when she can sees her

trying and failing and taking the failures hard and trying again and again and again for the people she loves and also for herself.

Mother puts her hand on her daughter’s forearm.

Her daughter notices the familiar weight the texture of her mother’s palm and is looking at the lines on her mother’s hands when her mother

the person in her life who has most often most consistently willed things into being by sheer force of work work work

surprises her.

Her mother says: Have a little faith, child.

The daughter could not even tell you exactly what her mother means by that

but she feels the muscles of her face relax

just the tiniest little bit.