I can’t look at her without a fake smile. The memory of a woman that lies before me dreaming extraordinary things, I stare at her with the thoughts of yesterday running through my head and the pain of a vicious headache pounding away. “Mother, it’s time to wake up,” I said as I regretfully and gently shake her from the calm slumber, the only place of peace she has left. I can’t help but think to myself how I should let her stay in bed and let her dreams carry her to wondrous places but if I don’t I will have to change her diaper and I don’t want to do that again. “Mother, it’s time to wake up, we need to go to the bathroom.” This time shaking her with a little more force.
“Gregor?” She whispers, even though I had heard it a million times and knew I would hear it every time she woke up. When I hear her say that name my heart shatters.
“No mother” her head turns to me with a face of confusion and her dull, and worn eyes meet mine. “It’s Ainsley” My voice starts cracking while I plead with god to let her remember who I am today. Her eyes stay unchanging, I beg God so adamantly for it to change. Her arm moves towards me and rubs me on the face as her eyes ease and the wrinkles bend to a smile. Thank God, and tears slowly form in my eyes.
I grab a small pillbox from the dresser and empty the correct day into my hand and with my other hand, I hand her a small foam cup of water to wash it down with. I grab the walker and place it at the edge of the bed. Once she has the pills down I take her by the arm to help her stand. “Did you dream about anything last night?” I ask as we make our way to the bathroom, hoping she will tell me of some kind hopeful and mystical place far off that she visited in her slumber. She looks at me again this time those dull, pale blue eyes are full of disappointment.
“I can’t remember, I’m sorry.” This is the fourth day in a row she can’t remember her dreams, her fantastic dreams. Her dreams are all she has left, why take them?
“Don’t worry mother, you can tell me about the dream you have tonight.”
“Oh, yes. I believe tonight’s dream will be a great one and I cannot wait for it. You know I never go more than one night without one” She says as she turns her frown to a smile.
“Good” I can feel the tears; at least she doesn’t remember she’s not having the dreams anymore. “But first let us make it through the day” I try to say without my voice cracking. “Let me help you mother.” I help to loosen the knot on the gray pajamas she wore to bed. I turn my head as I help pull her pants and diaper down. “Mother, do you need me to stay”.
“No” she whispers.
“I’ll be right outside, yell for me if you need anything,” I shut the door behind me. I rest my back on the bathroom door in hopes of somehow lessening my load but it doesn’t help. I look around the bedroom and see pictures of my family a long time ago. The thoughts of those times rush through me, like when dad use to wake me and my brother. Mom would set the table and have breakfast ready before we could get downstairs. It would be while we were eating that mom would tell us about her dreams. Dad would sometimes get so fascinated by them that he would only have a mesmerizing glare in his eyes and a smile of admiration for the woman he loved. My brother would eat as fast as possible so he wouldn’t miss any of the stories and it makes me realize my brother wasn’t always the man he is now. I would simply not eat until she would finish her story, which meant sometimes I wouldn’t eat at all. She never enjoyed that fact but I never did much mind that.
Vibrations from my pocket rip me out of my memories. I pull out my broken phone and try to answer but my finger keeps missing the answer button and I try a few more times before I can answer it. “Hello?”
“Hey Anny, what you up to?” says an oddly familiar voice that I can’t quite place it cause of the slight static noise coming through the speaker.
“Taking care of Mom,” I say uneasily.
“Anny, man. You need to get out and do something. You have been with your mother for the past two weeks.”
“How? she can’t be alone, she could hurt herself without someone watching her.”
“Well, just after what happened yesterday I figure you need a break.”
“Yesterday was a bad day, let’s not talk about that and I’m sorry but who is this?”
“It’s Ernie man, are you okay?” He asks with a tinge of feared concern in his voice.
“OHH Ernie I should have known, sorry, ever since I cracked the phone yesterday everyone sounds weird through it.” How did I not know it was him? That should have been obvious even through the static. “Anyways, I have to be here for her.”
“I understand but take one day for yourself and get Jacob to..”
“Don’t mention him.” I snap.
“Whoa, calm down man. He’s your brother I’m sure he will help.” my headache intensifies in pain.
“I KNOW FOR!!!” catching myself starting to yell, I stop and breathe. “I have to go, I need to check on mother but he won’t do a thing to help but thanks for calling.”
“Hey, before you get off here man. Know I’m here for you and I know Jacob let you down before but give him another chance, will you?”
“Ernie, you have done everything you possibly could have since mother took her turn, thank you.”
“You’re welcome, never hesitate to ask for help and remember Jacob is your brother he loves her just as much as you do and wants to help.”
“He has done almost nothing but I will think about it, bye.”
“Be careful, man.” He says as we hang up, my thoughts race between the memory of my brother as a child and the man he has become. I knock on the door of the bathroom while these thoughts race.
“Occupied” I hear my mother say from the other side. She has had to been in there for at least ten minutes.
“Mother, are you okay?”
“I am fine I am just brushing my teeth.” She says, I open the door to see my mother who has pulled up her own diaper and pants correctly and walked her and her walker successfully to the sink and is brushing her own teeth. She turns her head to see me and greets me with a toothpaste-laden smile. I try my hold my composure, I make my way embrace her in a hug in which I accidentally wrap my arms too high above her and almost miss. “Oh, what is this for Anny-bear,” she says with a level of loving astonishment I haven’t heard in a long time.
“For no reason mother, I’m just happy to see you.”
“You saw me this morning, you’re the one that woke me up, remember? You brought me to the bathroom” she says a single tear begins to flow down my face. She remembers waking up and remembers me. The tears timidly slide down my face as I hold my mother closer, she remembers. “Also, I remember my dream now.” I lose my composure. “Don’t cry Anny, what’s wrong?” She says gingerly as her hands run down my hair. I try my best to control myself, I feel her push back on me to see my face. She wipes the tears from my cheeks and looks at me and her eyes are no longer dull but glossy.
“I’m just happy to see you, mom,” I say in a broken voice as she gives me a sly and understanding smile still bathed in toothpaste. “You finish getting ready and ill help you to the table and start breakfast.”
“Okay, Anny-bear,” she says with a familiar loving tone I have not heard in a long time. I feel her hand rub my head.
“Anny, you have a huge bump on the back of your head. What has happened?” She asks as she turns to look at my head. Does she not remember yesterday? Perhaps it’s best she doesn’t.
“I hurt it yesterday, I uh, fell down and hit it. Don’t worry about it I’ll be fine mom.” I explain to her as she gives me judging eyes.
“You better tell me the truth, what happened?”
“I slipped and fell and busted my head in the kitchen, that’s all mom” I feel like a child being questioned. Her eyes narrow as she stares at me in the eyes with that you better not lie to me, face. “I promise I’m fine, let’s go make you some breakfast.” Her stern face slowly turned to a smile as we turn to the door and walk out through the bedroom into the kitchen.
“Addy, why is there a skillet in the floor?” She asked as I looked down at it.
“Oh, I guess I, I, forgot to put it up last night.” I say fumbling over my words
“Okay, but why is it on the floor?”
“I guess it fell off the table while I was cleaning yesterday and I just didn’t notice it.” Hoping she would not ask any more question about it and would just accept it. I need to hurry and put the skillet back or she will continue to ask questions and she will figure out I’m lying.
“I’ll put it up mom, don’t worry” I reach down to pick it up with my left hand and I struggle to pick up. It feels so heavy and I don’t know why it feels it takes all my force.
“What do you want for breakfast Anny?” She asks as she slowly walks towards the oven and I go to hang the skillet up above the table.
“Umm, I’m not sure it’s the best idea that you cook” I put the skillet in my right hand to place it on the hook above the table and it gets suddenly a lot lighter. I place it above the table easily.
“Whys that?” she asks in a demanding tone
“It’s just, uh, umm,” I need to get her to think of something else. “Let’s go watch TV mom, that doctor show you like so much is on.”
“No, I want to cook Anny. I’m hungry and I want to cook my OWN food”
“I’ll fix it, mom don’t worry.”
remember me. We had such a good day going but maybe if I leave her alone for a bit I can salvage it and in the meantime, I can try to get rid of this headache.
I look around the room and try to remember where I put the Advil. In the corner, I see a small weaved basket filled with yarn. Mother always loved knitting. She can’t do it anymore but I feel like if its around she feels more comfortable. I feel my cell phone buzz in my pocket, it only worsens my pounding headache. I reach into my pocket and fumble it around in my hands. I only get more and more furious with each slip and slide of the phone. I finally grip it and put it to my ear.
“Hello? Who is this” I can’t help but sound agitated
“Your brother?” Of course, he would call now.
“What do you want?” I say in the calmest voice I can
“I wanted to check on you, I talked to Ernie and he said there was an incident yesterday that I needed to come home and check on you. What happened?”
“You not being here to help with mom is what happened.” I can help but let the anger slip through my voice. So I decide to step outside and head to the barn back outside the house.
“Please, Anny let’s not start this.”
“Don’t call me that, you lost that right years ago,” I can feel my head start to spin.
“You know full and well what father told us to do.”
“DAD WASN’T IN THE RIGHT STATE OF MIND!!!” I burst out knowing I was out of earshot of mom.
“He wanted us to have full lives, he wanted her in a rest home. You’re choosing to use your time to help someone who needs professional help.”
“It’s not wasting it, regardless of what happens we should at least try. . .” my rage builds at the very thought of him sitting on some beach while mother suffers and I know her memory only amounts to the sand beneath his feet. “At the very least you could have come and visited her.”
“That’s why I’m calling, I’m going to come back to the farm, in fact, I’m in East Sovereignty right now. I’m going to stay at a hotel tonight. Tomorrow I’ll be out to see you and Mom. I’d be there today but I figure I would give you time to adjust to me showing up. I know we don’t have the best past.” In hearing his words my head still spins but the rage subsides and the headache seems to pound a little less.
“So, tell me, what prompted this? What made you leave the glamor of Miami to come back to Meise? I know full and well it isn’t because of the weather or money, or at least earned money.”
“That’s not funny”
“It wasn’t supposed to be” I answered with snide tone.
“Anyways, I told you remember? Ernie called and said there was an incident. What happened?”
“Mother had a bad day from the very moment she woke up and she couldn’t recognize me. The entire day she kept asking who I was and when I told her she denied even having children at all.”
“You have to be kidding!”
“No, not at all. Throughout the entire day, I had to remind her of what she was doing, who I was, and where she was. If I don’t keep a close eye on her all the time she could just walk out and get into her car.”
“Jesus, I had no idea it had gotten that bad. What did she do?”
“She picked up the keys from the table and I saw her do it. I tried to stop her by distracting her but in doing so I think she thought I was robbing her so she grabbed a cast iron skillet and hit me across the head.”
“JESUS!” I heard him say it so loudly through the phone that it kicked my headache back up and the static on the phone gets worst.
“Yea, I’m not hurt I just have a little headache and I feel a little wobbly every now and then.”
“That’s not good, have you been to the doctor yet?”
“No, it’s not that serious. The stress of it all just caused me to lose some sleep. Once I get a good rest in I should be better.”
“Are you sure? it sounds pretty bad to me.” I don’t know what to say, he seems serious as if he does care. “You still there?”
“Yea, I was just zoning out for a bit. I’m just so tired and all, I kind of want to take a nap.”
“I know you have been working hard. Well, when I arrive I can watch her for a bit while you rest.”
“Yea, why is it after all this time you came up here?” I can feel that slight anger scratching at the back at of my throat because I know why he came and he is hiding behind kindness. I want to believe but I don’t know.
“I feel it’s best to discuss it tomorrow. Face to face so we can talk about it in a civilized manner. Can you meet me at Mother’s house?”
“I’d rather not, I have been keeping Mom at my house. Could you meet me here?”
“I can but why not bring Mother to her house? So that she can see all her stuff?”
“I moved a lot of her things over here so she can feel like this is her home. I’d rather you just come here instead so I don’t have to work get Mom over there.”
“Alright then, I can come over there then. I’m going to get off here and check into this hotel. I will talk to you tomorrow.”
“I’ll talk to you tomorrow, bye.” I take the phone from my head and click the hang-up button or at least I try. I can’t seem to click the button and my grip feels so weak and I quickly put my phone in my pocket. The static from the phone is gone but my ears are now ringing loudly. I start walking back to the house to make sure mom is okay.
Mom, maybe should go to a nursing home. It crosses my mind every morning when I wake her. She is starting to become more than I can handle. Really all I ever look forward to anymore is to hear about her dreams. It’s been so long since I thought about anything else that it seems to be a distant memory, a piece of yarn in a weaved basket that was abandoned so long ago. I never detested the idea as much as I . . .
“HELP!” I hear my mother yell from the house in pain. “HELLP!”
“I I I’m com comm combing, mu mum” My lips go numb and my legs start to tingle. I taste pennies and my nose is dripping. All the colors seem to fade to black, gray and white. My arms and legs become numb, I can’t keep my eyes open. I fall to the ground try to claw the way to the house. I have to check on mom, I have too. . . I have too.