She had waited all day to get a chance to talk to her old college friend.
Her stockings were slipping in a most irritating way under her slacks by the afternoon. She shuffled at her guard post, trying to fix them without being too obvious.
“You dancing or what?” Charles popped through the doorway from his assigned room. He rubbed his smooth shaved head.
“I’m trying to fix my stockings!” Anita said. “And I need to show you something. Here.” She pulled out a pamphlet from her blazer pocket.
She shook the brochure until he took it. “This is the dilemma I’ve been telling you about.”
“This looks nice,” he said, flipping through the brochure. “Sprawling grounds and fountains. Two acre parkland. They take the residents for a stroll every day, weather permitting.” He handed it back to her. “Sounds great. What’s the problem?”
“The problem is, I don’t know if absolute chaos is a good enough reason to send my mama to a place like this!”
Charles gave a deep belly laugh. “Oh, your mama is going to love it there.”
“I just feel so bad, you know?” Anita leaned in. “I promised her I would always take care of her. But lately, it’s,” she sighed, leaning back on the wall, “really hard.”
“Has she been worse than when we talked last week?”
Anita frowned. “I’m worried about my grand babies. She’s started yelling at them because she don’t know who they are. They’re only two. They don’t understand. And I don’t know how much longer our electronics are going to hold out. She fried a third coffee machine yesterday.”
“Ouch.” Charles chuckled. “You do love your coffee.”
“But…” Anita folded the pamphlet up, holding it in her hands. “That’s not a good enough reason to do it. The biggest reason is, she keeps trying to drive somewhere. She don’t have a license anymore. Not after her last accident. But she always finds our keys and tries to drive. She’s not herself.”
“My father got the same way in the end, you know.” Charles stroked his chin. “Stopped eating because he didn’t know my wife and thought she’d come to poison him.”
“Mm. That’s awful.”
“He also took things apart. It was when he started trying to fix the gas stove we knew he had to go somewhere else. He was becoming a danger to himself and the rest of the house.”
Anita shook her head. “It’s so hard seeing parents go like that. They’re the ones taught us everything. Now we have to do our best to keep them happy and safe until they move on. I just don’t feel right taking her from the house…”
“But you know you done all you can for her. Don’t feel like you’re giving up. Everything’s gonna work out, you’ll see.” Charles smiled.
Anita shrugged and tucked the pamphlet away in her blazer as the sound of patrons in the next room over floated in.
“I’d like to think I’m a good daughter. And that I made my mama proud. She’s still my mother, no matter where she is.”
She eyed the Pollack on the wall next to them and shook her head. “Mama used to be an artist. But if she starts painting like that, I’m gonna be sure her mind is gone.”
“It’s not that bad,” Charles said.
Anita tilted her head to the side, giving him a look. “You joking?”
“It’s like life,” Charles explained. “Sometimes you have to find the beauty in the chaos.”
The patrons were entering the room behind. “Whoop, gotta get back to my post,” Charles said, slipping through the doorway. “See you around, Anita.”
Anita folded her arms behind her back and stared at the painting.
She found that this time she didn’t mind it so much. She liked the shade of brown Pollack used.
“Oh!” Anita clucked her tongue. “You just had to go and ruin it for me, didn’t you, Charlie?” she muttered.
She turned away from the beautiful chaos and stood tall.
The patrons came into the room.
I am not a fan of Jackson Pollack, so Iatched onto the guards. It’s kind of a sin to say it because everyone I know likes Pollack’s work. But for me it is just chaos, so to try and appreciate it I have to really search for the beauty.
And I guess that’s what I wanted to do with this story, was force my character to see the beauty in her own chaos.
My grandfather has dementia and it only gets worse with age. Fortunately, if there can be a fortunately here, it seems to be a slow process.
But he no longer recalls much of his past. He’s a brave man, because though I am sure he doesn’t remember any of us grand kids, we call him Dziadzi (grandfather) to remind him who we are, and he always says: “oh how are you? Great to see you!” And though he weekly takes apart household objects and turns the heat all the way up, we still love him.
And he is in his 90s, still living at home with my grandmother, who is also in her 90s, and cares for him and my mentally handicapped aunt. Pretty neat. I hope the day never comes we have to put him in a nursing home, but if it does, I hope my family understands they aren’t failing him, that sometimes it is really for the best.
Love you all, thanks for all the support and follows lately.
A big yay to R.B. Wood for Episode 26 of the Word Count Podcast. If you guys trek over there you’ll find 5 wonderful stories by some great authors (including my good friend Eden Baylee,) and 1 song, (mine).
“Lullaby” is the name of my song and that version of the recording is completely exclusive to that ‘cast. Enjoy!
Cheers and hope your December is lovely for you thus far,