This small woman grips the worn strap of a large black purse tucked at her side, and leans forward in the rocking chair.
Her gnarled fingers trace tiny rose petals in her skirt as if to find a path back to her life; the aging face of her daughter, her husband’s death, her 90th birthday party, her flower shop.
She sits in the same spot every day, near the entrance door, waiting for husband and daughter to take her home. The daily vigil stops when I call her name,
Ida Mae, let’s go back to your room and look at the photos of John and Olivia, and one we took last week with all the nursing staff at your ninetieth birthday party.
I visit often, hold her hand and tell her “back when I was a little girl” stories, she told me over the years. Triggering a lost memory, she smiles in the looking glass.
While she made flower arrangements, rainbow roses, lavender and hydrangea, I stood on a footstool to help clean up the work table.
She baked fresh apple pie in summer, cooked hot oatmeal in winter, fried donuts and donut holes all year round for neighbor kids.
I clutched every stray cat in my arms, and she walked me door to door to find the rightful owner.
She bandaged and kissed every bruise and scrape I got falling off my bike, or climbing the tangled oak tree in the front yard.
I tell her back only good mother stories not to burden her lost mind, and hope to see a flicker of life in her eyes.
She strokes the flower folds of her skirt, and her eyes brighten. She searches my face, and says, “You looks so familiar, but I can’t remember. I know you from somewhere.”