Mother. I laid down beside her; gazing with intent curiosity. She was applying her morning cream, a minuscule part of her daily regiment of self-maintenance.

"Why do you always pull so much effort on your appearances?" I asked.

She said, "What's wrong with pulling an effort to age gracefully?"

I thought, "Well, it's not working. You're not aging gracefully at all. But majestically. Aristocratically."

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