I didn’t want to write for Mother’s Day this year. But then it dawned on me that the only tangible thing that I can give my mother – at least on her day – is my words, however silly they may be.
I am a university student who can’t save up money if his life depended on it. There’s nothing else I could give. There’s nothing she would want other than me being there as much as I can, despite me being a nuisance quite often. And I could go on and on about how I’m glad my dad chose her but I think I’d say that if my dad had chosen any other woman to be my mother. What I’m sure of, though, is that I wouldn’t have turned out the way I did hadn’t my mother been named Jinane and hadn’t she loved me and protected me and been there for me as much as she did.
I was watching a documentary the other day that aired on MTV about Lebanese women. As I stood in front of the TV borderline gasping at all that our women have to go through, I started wondering: why was all of this in the realms of theory for me?
As she walked through the door, her wool post-chemotherapy hat on, the answer dawned on me: it’s because my mother was never a victim. She was never weak. She was always strong – even through her illness.
This past year had been especially tough on her. I remember when her hair started falling and I knew that with every follicle leaving her head, she was feeling less and less like a woman. There was nothing I could do. I’m not the type to show pity or even much emotion. I couldn’t do anything.
Once the hair grew slightly back on and she decided to dye it, the process went horribly wrong. It was then that I saw her cry, for the first time since she started the horrible path of chemotherapy. There was this one thing making her hopeful and she was sad she botched it. I wouldn’t take it so I managed to get her to dye her hair again.
This time, though, the dye worked. As she struggled to put earrings on for the first time in four months and then applied some form of makeup on her beautiful face, her eyes were radiant. I asked her what’s the point of all of this? She said she hadn’t felt this way since they removed her tumor and with it most of her breast… a woman.
The feminists might be outraged. They will say you don’t need make up to feel like a woman and you sure as hell don’t need your son inquiring about it. But my mom is not a feminist, she’s a humanist. She gives whenever she can give and whenever she cannot. She works whenever she can work and whenever she cannot. She loves the people whose love only bring her woes and she can’t help it.
She may infuriate me sometimes and I may snap at her more than I would like. I can’t help it. But my mom, this 40-something woman who comes from this little town in the North, who had to stop her nursing studies when she got married and who is an ordinary woman by the accounts of all those over-achievers around, is to me not just extraordinary, she is fantastic and brave and gorgeous and humble and brilliant and beautiful.
This 40-something woman got the best Mother’s Day present by finishing the last session of the cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs yesterday. She’ll probably be on cloud nine in a few days when the nausea wears off. She will be even happier when her eyelashes grow back and her eyebrows grow thicker.
But that woman, with all her weaknesses and her imperfections, is the most perfect and greatest woman I know.