I find her in the kitchen. Old habits die hard, I guess. She spends more and more time in here these days, wandering among the appliances she doesn’t use anymore. Today, she stands in the corner, utterly still, her eyes fixed on the counter.
“Grandma? What are you looking at?”
“I can’t find the pears,” she says, not moving.
“The pears. I bought them yesterday to make tarts. Where are they?”
My mouth waters with an old memory, but I quickly brush it aside.
“I brought your medicine,” I say, shaking the pharmacy bag. “Hurry up and take it, we have to get going.”
“To see Gail?” she says hopefully, looking at me for the first time. I falter.
“No, grandma. To Harbor House? Remember, you’re moving in today?”
She turns away again. “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly go today. Gail said she would stop by. She’s bringing peach iced tea and I’m making tarts and we’re going to watch Nixon’s talk on the television.”
“Grandma,” I say gently. Tiredly. “We talked about this. Harbor House is a good place. You have a room all to yourself, really nice nurses, and Marvin or I will be by every week to visit.”
“Not today, dear. Maybe tomorrow. Today, Gail is coming by.”
I exhale. A memory of my grandmother swells in my mind. An image of her dancing around this kitchen, the smell of spiced pears warming me from the inside out.
Then, a second memory. Grandma at Gail’s funeral, the brightness gone from her eyes as they lower her daughter, my mother, into the ground. Brightness that never came back.
I glance at the clock with the rabbits on it, ticking on the wall next to the fridge. We’re already late. I think about the paperwork involved with a late check in, the money we’ll lose, the counselors who will caution me against giving into my grandmother’s moods, their artificial smiles.
I come around the corner and put my arms around her frail body. “Okay, grandma. We’ll go tomorrow.”
Story by Kellie Coppola
Since Bill passed I’ve found myself in this position a lot, I come in here ten times a day, then I realize there’s nothing to do. I don’t eat much, he ate like a horse.
He had the rest of the house but this room was mine, he almost never came in here, but now that he’s gone it feels so empty. I still buy enough food each week to feed an army, but it just goes bad, or I give it away.
The kids came by a lot in those first few weeks and this room was as busy as it’d ever been, but people have lives they’ve got to get on with I guess, I suppose I do too.
I’ll sell this place soon, find somewhere with a smaller kitchen.