[dropcap]S[/dropcap]he was the loud talking girl in school, Janice was. The teachers had to tell her to hush, over and over again. But she didn’t know how to do that. And she would never learn how.

When she was older, she got married. Moved away. She got tired of working crummy jobs and decided to put herself through college. And by God she did.

She was nothing if not determined.

She worked in the hospital, the night shift. We hardly saw her at home. She tended to dying patients with those same soft hands she used on me. People passing from death into eternity were lucky to have those hands.

When I was twelve, she sat beside me while the pastor told us Daddy took his own life. We cried together. For nearly twenty years we cried. Our lives became hard. Bone-hard. I don’t know how we made it through. And even though she’s older than me, she says it feels as though we raised each other.

Humble to a fault.

She’s a fine woman. Damn fine. Made up of more grit than anyone I know. She’s happy. She still likes to quilt and mend my torn slacks when I need it. She draws and paints. She loves her cats, and we text each other during ballgames.

And my God, how that woman loves to talk. I should know, I’m just like her.

She’s my mother.