My mother needed help getting out of the bathtub. I had never seen my mother’s body bare. I sometimes saw her in her white bra and white underpants, big white underpants spread to dry across the clothesline like a row of unfolded paper doll cutouts. She didn’t hide her body when I came to help her. Her stomach was crisscrossed with scars from operations and wrinkled skin. “This is what happens to your body,” she announced. I didn’t want to know. Why was she telling this to me— boasting even— she who put smiley faces on her letters and wrote “Life can be beautiful” just to annoy me. I didn’t want to know my body would reach a point where diet and exercise couldn’t reshape it, that it would sag and wrinkle, become hopeless. It was one thing to acknowledge her body’s disintegration— but quite another to think of my body growing? old. “You don’t have to shave your legs anymore,” my mother continued. “Your hair stops growing,” she told me, as if this were something to look forward to.