Top Heavy

Mom has always been overly well-endowed to the tune of quadruple double D’s.

Breast-feeding four children added more, leading my Daddy to nickname Mom’s bust-line “the shelf.” Bathing her top-heaviness is also one reason I decided to smash the piggy bank Daddy left to buy one of those pricey spa bathtubs I call the Bubbling Mercedes-Benz.

“Time to wash the shelf,” I announce every two days to Mom’s delight.

With macular degeneration stealing her eyesight and arthritis halting every step, showering in her old bathtub was dreaded by both of us, but now shower days are nothing less than adventures.

“Too cold!” she always screeches each time she slides the submarine hatch closed and turns on the water, leading me to repeat the plumbing process of waiting for the hot water to kick in. Once the warm water starts filling the tub, I use the spray handle to shampoo her hair before switching on the rotating rainbow of lights and jets that swirl soap over every inch from shoulders and shelf to ankles and toes.

Then the fun begins.

“I believe these are getting smaller,” she says, looking down while awaiting my comeback.

“Then why can’t I see your knees?”

Her smile intentionally ignores me.

“When we were little, sister Sara and I took baths together in a big metal tub that Mama filled with buckets of cold water and pots of boiling water from the wood stove. We had the best time making waves, slapping the water like this.”

I never can back up fast enough to dodge the splash.


“A little water never hurt anybody. Your Daddy and I took showers together and …”

 “Too-much-information-alert! There are some things a daughter doesn’t need to know.”

“Fine, but you can bet your bottom dollar we had a good time.”

Our words keep hopping back and forth as I flip the plug, letting the sudsy water seep out before I turn on the spray handle to rinse. I can easily handle her back by myself but her front is a two-person job.

“Okay, Mom, pick them up and I’ll spray.”

“The little ones?” she says, knowing it will make me giggle.

“If you can find some little ones, I’ll spray them, too.”

“Just remember what your Daddy told me about them.”

As I turn off the water and we both reach for towels, I think back to that suppertime years ago when Mom complained that her breasts were so heavy they were giving her backache. Then, turning toward my wonderful Daddy, Mom had said:

“I’m thinking about having surgery on my breasts.”

Daddy, setting his fork down and putting on a serious face, had slowly looked up at Mom and replied:

“Well, surgery can be dangerous, but if you want them bigger, that’s fine with me.”