We sat in the yard listening to the birds chirping away in the late afternoon, she in her wheelchair, me on the end of a bench. Her face, while not wrinkled, held the heavy jowls of her age. Her eyes, once brighter than the stars, were half-lidded and dull. I wasn’t sure she knew I was there, even after sitting with her for close to an hour. Her mouth was working, as if trying to talk to someone from her past, or just giving words to her confusion.
It was hard to see her like this. I had hoped she would see me get married, if I ever found someone to marry. My brother Dwight did, as did my sister Elaine. Maureen has been seeing someone steady for a while. They tease me about it, but I’m in no rush, or at least I wasn’t until mom had to be put in a senior home. I didn’t want this, but as none of us had any way of providing her with the care she needed we had no choice. We visit her everyday, today being my day. It doesn’t make the heartbreak any easier.
“Who, who are you” she said suddenly.
“Mom, it’s me, Bryan” I replied softly.
“Who, what…” she replied. I could see the confusion in her eyes. When it happens I have to choke back a sob so as not to upset her more. I hated these moments, but I wasn’t here for me.
“I don’t know you” she said, visibly agitated. “Where am I, what am I doing here?”
“Mom?” she shot back. “I don’t know you.” Her frustration and confusion were building up.
“Just look at your bracelet, please.”
“B..bracelet” she asked, still eyeing me nervously.
“Yes, here.” I reached for her arm and she pulled it back, not willing to let me touch her.
“Just look at it” I said. She still didn’t trust me, and didn’t want to take her eyes off of me. She did a couple of double-takes as she tried look at it and watch me. Then she became more curious of the bauble dangling from her wrist. It was a charm bracelet, and in between the panda and the sneakers and the cross were small pictures of me and my siblings. She studied it, turned it over, and found the one of me. “Oh, look at that” she said, as the confusion gradually faded away.
She looked at me and back at the picture, then she said “That’s you”.
“Yes it is” I replied. Maureen’s idea. She was a brat, but a smart one. It was what she called a Trust Bracelet. This way mom would know who to trust whenever she looked at it.
“Oh” she said, as she gazed upon my image then at me. “Ok.”
Keep it together Bryan, I thought, for her.
“You’re pretty handsome.”
“Thank you.” I smiled at her. She hesitated, then smiled back.
I loved these moments.