The tragic thing about Gramp was that, as she grew older, her memory started to fade; not her long-term memory. She never forgot those old stories but she did forget my name sometimes. During her latter years, I had ventured off into the “wild blue yonder” of the United States Air Force and only returned home twice a year at the most; so it wasn’t entirely unexpected that she would forget me. When I would return home on leave and knock on her door, she would open the door to, what for her, must have seemed a familiar face; but one she could not, for the life of her, recall a name for or where she recognized it from. She would greet me at the door; smiling that gold toothed smile, and welcome me warmly into her home. I could see the questions and confusion peeping through the smiling brown eyes, but she was too kind and polite to ask outright, as might have a less genteel host, “Who are you, and what do you want at this hour of the night?”
Eventually, after having offered her “uninvited” guest a “co-cola” or a glass of water and a seat on the worn, familiar sofa or one of the two, “Naugahyde” recliners lining three of the four walls of her quaint domicile, she would eventually get around to asking, albeit apologetically, “Now, who did you say you were?” To which I’d answer, “I’m Ronnie, your grandson; Fletcher’s oldest son”; being careful not to let any impatience, frustration, or sarcasm seep into my tone.
Then her brown eyes would flash with recognition and a smile would slowly spread across her kindly, golden toned face as she would chime, “Oh yes, you’re the one in the Army?” “Yes Gramp”, I would answer, not bothering to correct her on which branch of the military that I served in. It didn’t matter. I was home, here was Gramp and old stories were sure to be on the evening’s agenda. Anyway! In Cuthbert—my home town—everyone who was in the military was in the “Army”, as far as the citizenry was concerned.
The following story, entitled “THE LOVE SEAT” took place as I was visiting a friend’s mother in the nursing home. I sat in the “TV” room/lobby and waited while the Nurse’s Assistants changed my friend’s mother’s bed. As I sat on the LOVE SEAT I met a lady who reminded me of my Grandmothers; Nancy (Raytakka), Mollie, and Annie. Please enjoy THE LOVE SEAT:
I never got her name, but as I sat there on the small “love seat” in the dayroom of the nursing home, or “Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center”, as some nursing homes are now called, she came and sat down beside me. She held her big red purse close to her chest with a white-knuckled grip that I’m sure would have caused me a degree of pain, had we shaken hands. She held that purse as if it contained a million dollars, or her life’s savings. She held it as if she believed that loosening her grip would have allowed the purse to just grow wings and fly away.
She sat down and immediately began an unsolicited conversation with me. I don’t know what made her choose me. Maybe I just looked friendly to her, or maybe I reminded her of the son who’d deposited her there in the “healthcare and rehab” and then forgotten her. Maybe this was her seat and it was I who was trespassing, or maybe there was just nowhere else to sit. I had not looked around, prior to her arrival, to see if the latter was the case. She whispered to me in a surprisingly strong, raspy voice, considering that she was a small-framed lady, with not much else covering her brittle bones except the thin, blue-veined, cream colored skin of a Black lady, through whose blue veins much Caucasian blood flowed. “You know I’m 92 years old?” she rasped. “What?” I’d replied in surprise.
“She gets around well for one so aged” slid a thought through my mind…
Please come back next week for the conclusion to “The Loveseat”