Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
The Beginning Of The End
by Linda Melick
It starts when Dad dies. Afterwards we wonder if it really did start then or did it start before then and we did not recognize it because Dad was in such bad shape. When Dad is taken to the hospital, she is convinced that he is having a stroke and that she will teach him how to speak again and how to walk, just like she did when her father had a stroke. Only she is wrong, and Dad dies from an aneurism in his brain.
She begins to give me photos of Dad whenever she sees me. It is always the same photo, but I pretend it is the first time I have seen it. Meanwhile she is supposed to be moving to live near my sister. She keeps asking us how Dad will know where to find her. We think she is depressed; she is grieving. She always manages to bring the conversation around to the hospital where Dad died. She is convinced that he is still there, waiting to be released. We remind her gently of the box of his ashes that we plan to scatter in the mountains when the spring comes.
During the move, she loses the box of ashes and we never find it again. At her new apartment, we notice that she does not do any housekeeping, nor does she buy any food, except for donuts. My sister has to invite her for dinner every evening. My sister also has to do her laundry because she no longer cares whether her clothes are clean.
After she leaves something burning on the stove and the whole apartment building has to be evacuated, my sister finds her a place in an assisted living complex. She moves into a small apartment there, but they insist that she spend her waking time in the locked ward because she wanders off the property and they do not want to be held liable.
When I visit her there, we play games, throwing big soft beach balls back and forth. The walls are painted a cheerful yellow and there is a list of the day's activities and the week's menu, just like on a cruise. Only this trip has rough waters ahead and only one port of call.
Linda Melick lives and writes in upstate New York which is almost as beautiful as Northern California.
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