She opens her mouth forming a perfect oval so that her lips are stretched over her teeth in order not to let them show. I lean in close and steady my hand as I apply the first sweep of lip color. Her lips are pale and dry but the shape of them are surprisingly perfect looking. It is strange why I have never noticed this perfection before.
I am running barefoot down the hallway to her bathroom. I stop short at her left hip and gaze up at her just in time to see her apply lipstick. This is our daily ritual. I wait until I hear her open the medicine cabinet and then I flee to her side like a puppy running to retrieve a biscuit simply because he hears the biscuit jar open. I marvel at how well she stays in the lines of her lips and wonder why I am unable to stay in the lines of the figures in my current coloring books. Within moments her pale dry lips are transformed. There is an art to her application. She never applies the lipstick to her bottom lip. Instead, she only applies it to the top lip. She carefully but swiftly colors in the shapely contour of the upper lip and then she lifts her right pinky finger to repeat the contour-tracing-action in order to smooth out the color. Then she closes her mouth and rubs her lips back and forth so that the bottom lip gets the color too. She grabs a tissue and rubs the leftover color off of her pinky and then closes the lipstick into the medicine chest where it will sit until tomorrow's ritual. All of this is done in one swift, effortless motion. In fact, all of her motions are multi-tasked, swift, efficient, and effortless.....always. Her daily tasks are met head on with one purpose only: to be swiftly completed.
The lipstick ritual that we shared eventually faded into my childhood past as I grew up and filled my selfish youthful life with seemingly more important things to do. However, her lipstick clad lips became an indicator for me for I could always tell when she was tired or feeling poorly by the lack of lipstick on her lips. No child likes to see their parent ill or tired because in our minds they are invincible. Perhaps this is why I obsessively apply it to her lips when I come for my visits. Now I know that she is not invincible and now I know that we both feel better with our lips colored in.
I step back to admire my lipstick-application-handiness and frown. "Darn it, Mom! I've made you look like a hooker again!" She chuckles as she rubs her lips together. I grab a tissue and clean off my pinky while telling her that applying lipstick for someone else is an art in itself.