The year was around 2010. My long time friend Megan came with me to visit my mother at an assisted living facility. Mom had full blown Alzheimer’s.
I love my friend Megan but “stable” is not the first adjective that comes to mind when describing her character.
Megan and I are sitting with Mom. She’s non-verbal. Megan says to Mom, “Do you want to go for a drive?”
That should have been my cue to say, “Are you fucking crazy? Not a good idea. What if she soils herself. This might be considered kidnapping.”
But I didn’t. I took my mother’s hand and walked her to my car.
We drive around Colonial Williamsburg. Mom has a look of wonder or terror. I can’t tell. She cannot tell either.
We drive to the neighborhood where I grew up. Mom lived in the house for about forty years. We sold it when she moved to the assisted living facility.
We get out of the car. Mom walks up to the flower garden she planted. She’s pulling weeds. I’m waiting for the new occupants to come out to inquire why an elderly stranger is pulling weeds in their garden.
Megan says, “Let’s knock on the door.” Before I can say, “NO” Megan is knocking on the door.
A tall, dark, handsome guy opens the door. Megan says, “Oh my god Cliff!” at the same time the guy says, “Oh my god Megan!”
Megan says, “This is my cousin Cliff. I cannot believe you live here.”
Cliff welcomes us in.
Megan and Cliff are catching up. Mom makes a b-line to the kitchen. She sits at the kitchen table and starts opening up the stack of mail on the table. Just like she used to do.
Cliff’s roommates are in the next room watching football and drinking beer. They don’t seem to care that a non-verbal stranger is sitting at their kitchen table opening up their mail.
Mom finishes opening every envelope. She gets up and walks out the front door. She goes back to pulling weeds. I go inside to get Megan. Cliff comes out to the porch to say goodbye. Mom is grinning ear to ear. She’s holding a bouquet of purple coneflowers that have dirt-covered roots hanging from them.
We return to the facility. Mom hands the clumpy bouquet of flowers to a nurse. Megan says, “We gotta go” and we run away.