Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Spring (the season) (07/23/09)
TITLE: Spring Forward, Fall Back
By Sherry Cortese
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“Why just right as rain, sweetie! Good to see you! Come on in and I’ll fix you a cup of that herb tea you like so much.” Mavis is clearly glad to see me. Problem is she hasn’t a clue who I am. Her demeanor is refreshing though. She’s always happy. She just doesn’t know what year it is and she thinks that this one level assisted living facility in Albuquerque is her Victorian two-story in Montpelier.
She’s living in the past. That’s what my mother used to say of old-timers who were senile. Now the past is where my mother lives as well.
I follow Mavis into the amply windowed great room. The large screen plasma is tuned to CSPAN. A man with a distractingly positioned toupee is droning on in political gibberish. Someone must have sat on the remote, facilitating a channel change. While this assemblage of geriatric ladies has demonstrated varied tastes in programming, CSPAN is not on their favorites list. Vacant eyes stare screen-ward. I briefly consider finding the remote and then querying them to get a democratic vote on what they would enjoy watching. I quickly dismiss this mission. As joyous as searching their backsides for the errant remote might be, the survey process would leave my brain permanently cramped.
My 85 pound mother is dwarfed in a Paul Bunyon recliner. “Hi, Mom,” I offer tentatively. “How ‘bout we sit on the patio and enjoy the nice weather?”
Her black eyes shoot fiery darts in my direction. She may not remember who is president, but she always remembers to not like me. She crosses her arms defiantly and snarls something unintelligible in low, guttural tones reminiscent of a growl. The kind you hear from an animal just prior to a vicious bite.
I know she won’t be able to get up unassisted. If there were a fire, she would be unable to extricate herself from the confines of the leather Lazy Boy. It suctions her in at the waist, folds her thighs in towards her stomach and then magnetizes her little rear to the inner workings of the chair. She groans and mutters under her breath as I use leverage to pry her out.
She reluctantly agrees, through clenched dentures, to go outside. My daily dose of beratement begins. The slow mosey to the patio gives her plenty of time for a complete brow-beating. She manages to illicit enough guilt to last several lifetimes. The clincher is when she closes with, “And some day you’ll look down on my dead face and be sorry!” I’m sorry now; sorry I wasn’t hit by a bus on the way here.
We sit together in the glider and admiringly gaze out over the expansive yard. The landscapers have recently filled four white cement urns with red geraniums. Their look is regal. Flowering plum trees are the color of eggplant. A large terra cotta planter contains purple and yellow pansies bordered by white sweet alyssum.
There are no houses behind Casa Esperanza so we have an unimpeded view of the Sandia Mountains. The setting sun spills pinks and fuchsias and soft reds slowly over the mountains.
I look over at my mother and notice how her mouth has softened. Her features have lost their sharpness and she has relaxed her grip on that ever-present hanky. She has sunken into the glider and lifted her feet to allow me to gently move us back and forth.
“Grass’ll need mowing soon. Think I’ll buy more strawberry plants. There’s room.” She motions with a flip of her wrist towards the far right corner of the property. I recall the strawberry patch she had in Colorado and its location in her yard.
“Love these pansies! Such happy little smiling faces! They’re thanking God for Spring.” she says with childlike appreciation. We are both drawn to watch the final seconds of the sunset. It happens in fast motion. Beautiful colors blending and morphing into each other and then suddenly the sun has retreated.
“These mountains are called Sangre de Christo. That’s Spanish for the blood of Christ.” She says this as she points to the Sandias. “You should know this. They’ll ask you at school.”
I resist my usual impulse to correct her. I can’t fix her mind or her world. But if for one brief point in time she’s at peace, so be it.
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