“Where’s mama? You should have called me sooner!” Janie’s face was grief-stricken as she scanned her sibling’s faces in the hospital waiting room.
“You didn’t care so much about mama when you turned your back on your faith. We called you soon enough. Mama wants to see you, that is the only reason why you are here.” Maria bit the words off in icy clips, like she was trying to talk and clench her teeth shut at the same time.
Janie swallowed the tears in her throat and willed herself to not lose herself here. Not now in front of these people that she used to call family. Maria had always been the coldest towards her, maybe their age difference meant they had never really bonded. More than that, the church was everything to Maria. She never missed a mass; she knew all of her Saints like she knew the names of her daughters. Janie leaving the church to marry her husband and then to be baptized in the Baptist church was an unforgivable sin to Maria. Janie tried to look at Anna but she kept her eyes downcast. Anna would never go against Maria; she had always been the weaker of the two.
Nate coughed to break the tension. “Come Juanita, Ven, I’ll take you to mama.” He made his way between the two sisters and placing a hand under Janie’s elbow he led her away.
Good old Nate, the peacekeeper, Janie appreciated that he had always tried to keep in touch with her but she missed the closeness they had once had. They walked down the hallway in near silence the sound of their shoes echoing before them.
“Mama, she’s okay. I mean she is not okay, of course not, but she still has a little time. Rosa and I are taking her back to our home, a Hospice nurse will come by to check on her and we all decided that we will take turns staying with her during the day. Janie, I wanted you to have that option too.”
“But will she be okay at a house? Couldn’t they do more for her here?”
“Juanita, it’s too late, all we can do is make sure is comfortable. I think she would be happier with her children.”
Janie nodded. Of course her was right, mama hated hospitals. “I’ll go over as often as you’ll let me. What about Maria?”
“I’ll talk to her; mama would want you there too. Maria is going to have to deal with that.”
“Thank you.” They had stopped in front of a room marked with her mother’s name in jerky script. Janie hugged her brother quickly and then pushed against the door to go in.
“Mama.” It had been at least six months since she saw her and Janie regretted letting that be the case. She tried to call her every couple days but the calls were always short. Though her mother never voiced what she was thinking the way Maria did, Janie knew that she disapproved of her lifestyle. Now it was hard to look at her mother lying there looking so frail and small without beating herself up for not trying harder. She walked up to her mother in the hospital bed and put her hand as close to hers as she dared. It hurt her to see all of the wires going in and out of her. “Estas ven? Nesisitas agua? Are you well, do you need some water?” Her mother had lived in America all her life but preferred to speak in Spanish. Janie talked English most of the time now and the words in her Spanish pronunciation sounded off to her ears. Her mother nodded no and lifting two of her fingers, she placed them on Janie’s hand. Their eyes met and both filled up, so much time wasted was the thought they seemed to mirror. Janie’s other hand covered her mother’s and she touched her head to her head before rising up and kissing the forehead gone soft with age. They didn’t seem to need any more words just yet.