Today I wanted to share with you a short story that I wrote...
for my mother-in-law, Marilyn.
Where Did She Go?
by Jerri Hines
Time is a relative thing. Isn’t it? I mean the older we get the faster it ticks away. There are never enough hours in the day. Running late as usual, I stopped by for a quick visit. Have to. Haven’t been by in awhile.
The backdoor open, I walked in, sliding back the screen door to find Mom sitting in her chair. She smiled up at me, the most beautiful smile. A laugh escaped her, a laugh to die for. The house used to echo her laughter.
“Oh, it’s you. You have come to visit,” she said.
I smiled back at her. It’s been years since she said my name. I looked over at Dad. It has been one of those days I can see. His tired worn eyes betrayed him, but not his words.
Leaning over and kissing Mom’s cheek, I turned to Dad. “Why don’t you go out? I’m here for as long as you need me. Pat is at a dinner for work.”
“Do you mind? I could run down to the Knight’s?” he asked.
“Not a problem,” I answered, reprimanding myself. I should have come by more often and watched her for him.
Realizing in that moment, I have taken my older sister, Donna, for granted. She has taken the blunt of this. Never having married, I had convinced myself she had the time to look after Mom and Dad. Forgetting perhaps, she was my mother, too.
I watched Dad leave from the window and turned back to Mom.
“Where did that man go?” she asked.
I sighed. “He’ll be right back.”
“Who?” she asked. She stood up and walked toward the kitchen.
“Are you hungry? Let me fix you something,” I said while following her.
She leaned down and picked up a tiny, tiny scrap of paper on the floor. I wondered for a moment how could she have seen it. She picked it up and placed it in the palm of her hand.
“Do you want me to take that?”
She doesn’t answer, but I reached over and took it. Throwing it in the garbage, I watched her walk over to the table, rearranging the centerpiece. She turned back to me.
“Where did that man go?”
“He’ll be back in a minute,” I answered her again. My eyes caught sight of a stack of pictures at the corner of the table.
Picking them up, I flipped through them. I held the past in my hand. Pictures of my father fifty years ago. So good looking, smiling in his army uniform. Another of their wedding…baby pictures of us kids.
So long ago. How I missed those days. Engrossed in the pictures, I didn’t noticed at first she had sat down. She held the picture of my father in her hand. Gently her hand glazed over the face.
“He’s handsome,” she said, not releasing it but gripping it tighter. She reached for the stack of pictures. I relented and studied her as she looked through them.
Suddenly the urge surged through me that I wanted her back. I wanted her to take me in her arms as she had when I was a child. Smooth away the pain. To tell me that all would be fine.
“Everything will be better in the morning,” she used to tell me.
Instead, she looked up at me. “Where did that man go?”
“He’ll be back in a minute,” I answered once more. She seemed appeased and went back to looking through the pictures.
We sat there going through the pictures. I answered her patiently when she asked me who it was.
“That’s Tommy. Your oldest grandson.”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
I nodded. She stared down at it thoughtfully. I saw her mind struggle to remember, searching for something familiar. There had been times in the past when she would break down and cry at this point. Today she went to the next picture.
How desperately I wanted to share with her my memories. Moments in my life I cherish. Would always cherish. Wouldn’t I?
I wanted to tell her I would never have survived high school without her. It wasn’t until my children got to be in high school that I realized why Mom stayed up and hugged me before I went to bed. Later in life she told me she just wanted to make sure I hadn’t been drinking. Nothing ever got by her. I wanted her to know I have done the same with my children.
I chuckled to myself remembering how much she disliked Pat when I began dating him. Never did she come straight out and tell me. No, it wasn’t her way. Subtle remarks here and there. They stopped the day I married. Over the years, surprisingly she formed a special bond with my husband.
Then the vision of her when I was giving birth to Justin flashed before me. Pat was by my side when the doctor said his heart rate dropped and they needed to perform an emergency Cesarean. Being wheeled down the corridor to the OR, I heard her before I saw her. Running down the corridor like a mad woman, she stopped us for a second.
Bending down over me, she whispered, “I love you.”
I heard her as I was being wheeled away. “I couldn’t let them take her in without telling her…”
I looked back at her. Oh, God, what happened to my mother? The woman who never forgot a date in her life, a birthday, an anniversary, dates that I didn’t even know meant anything.
Smiling at me, she asked, “Where’s that man? Suppose he forgot to come back.”
“He’ll be back in a minute.”
She nodded. Her head tilted to the side when she came to the next picture, the picture of her on her wedding day. Beautiful, smiling broadly, so happy.
Her eyes met mine. “Where did she go?”
More than 5 million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s. My husband’s mother, Marilyn, is one of them. From a personal perceptive, Alzheimer’s is an awful disease taking from your love ones their memories. I have watched my husband’s family struggle with this fact. At first, I watched a lovely, warm woman struggle to remember simple facts. Frustration sets in. She wasn’t what she wanted to be. Then after another stage, she became more like a child. Accepting what you told her amiably, instead it was his family who endured the hurt. I have watched my father-in-law stand by his wedding vows, for better or worse, in sickness or health, faithfully. When I write a romance, I write about finding a love to last a life time. It happens…I’ve seen it.
So come Sunday, September 25th, my family and I are walking for Marilyn. My hubbie's idea. In a situation where you don't have a lot of control, he wanted to do something for his mother. If not his, someone's. Marilyn would have liked that. She was always helping someone.
If you are up here in
, you are welcome to join us. If you can’t walk, think about a small donation if you can. Every little bit helps. Here’s the link. You can hit donate to a walk participant, then go to Robert Hines (Duxbury) if you want. Or just hit donate. Boston
Thanks for letting me share. Thank you for caring....