V is for vistas. For my youngest boy, it is the vista from the top of a spry tree, with branches young and yielding enough to hold his weight. Up there, the view is wide, shadows are fleeting, and his face is illuminated like a small moon.
Lately, I'm more apt to be thinking about my mother's vistas. I think about the stories she'd tell me of when she was a young woman and spent summers on a horse ranch in the mountains of New Mexico. She would talk about the magnificent views from the tops of those mountains. She likes to relate a particular story of when she was out riding a horse down a mountain in a thunderstorm. That rush of excitement, as she knew it was a crazy thing to do; fork lightning seared the grown. But my mother has always faced life fearlessly. The lightning to her, that vista, was far more beautiful than frightening.
Until about a year or so ago, my mother's favorite vista was the ocean. She was still able to walk down to it from her house, to sit on a bench and remark on the extraordinary light reflecting off the water. She still visits the ocean, but only when I can drive her.
At 93, her balance has deteriorated as has her strength, diminishing her vistas. Her vistas now are from windows. Her most favorite, the one from where she rests on her bed, a vista of sunsets, more crimson and bold through the sparse branches of winter. New leaves only make her feel imprisoned.
Other than that, she enjoys the vista through the little window above her sink that looks out on her dining table. Where all winter she has kept a pink flowering plant, the blooms finally fading as they do in warmer weather.
"I will so miss looking out on that bit of color," she said tearfully. The smallest things now are magnified and can make her cry.
"We'll get another one, another plant," I said, though not convincingly. I feel some days, I offer too much false hope.This was a plant that only blooms in winter, and her table doesn't have enough sun for a geranium. Maybe a begonia....
"Well, I still I have him," she said, now with a little laugh, of the miniature stuffed reindeer on that windowsill. "I don't know why, but I enjoy him so."
The reindeer was a Christmas ornament I'd given her in her stocking one year. It was so delicate, its real twig antlers had broken off, so it looked more like some kind of little rodent with its pointy snout.
But what she "enjoys" about him is that "he is always looking up."
Driving home from that weekly visit, I thought how I would bring her cut lilacs from my own garden.