Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Story: Ghost

His mother had always been there for him, and later in life he was there for her. By the time she turned eighty-nine she was easily confused. She was there but not there. It was the same body, the same voice, but it was not her. Being with her felt like babysitting, and that was when parts of her began to fade away.

As she heard less of what he said her ears faded away. She did not seem to notice. Although her missing ears alarmed him he said nothing. When a conversation longer than a minute became a chore for her if she had to do more than ask questions, her lips faded. She could only speak at length about the past or the retirement community she lived in.

As she increasingly used a walker, her legs faded. Trips out became carefully planned affairs. She had the energy to visit a store or have dinner, but rarely both, and sometimes she got confused and did not want to go out at all.

It was a nightmare, losing her piece by piece. He increasingly felt he was visiting a ghost. Even her eyes were buried behind thick glasses, and when he reached out and touched her hand, it felt cold.

But he continued to visit because she needed him and he loved her, or the memory of her. Most often he took her on drives through the old neighborhood while they spoke of people long dead. She liked that.

Victor Schwartzman

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