Dolores (Dee) Senchak
My husbandís sister makes her way to our dinner table and parks her walker in the usual place.
She fusses with the brakes on the wheel chair thatís kept at the table for her convenience, and then sinks cautiously onto the chair. She inches the wheelchair closer to the table with the brakes on, leaving black streaks on the white tile floor.
She makes the predictable comment, ďIt looks good enough to eat.Ē
Seated at our cozy round table to eat the food Iíve prepared, Hubby and I may make small talk. His sister is silent as she eats.
Itís then that I begin to wonder.
I wonder what itís like to live in a quiet world that is becoming increasingly more silent. I wonder how severe the emotional pain must be when, in lucid moments, she realizes that everything she worked ninety years to acquire is now reduced to a single room. I donít need to wonder how painful it is for her to go through the photos and memorabilia contained in several small boxes kept in her room. I donít need to wonder about that because Iíve witnessed the hours of inconsolable crying she has spent day after day. Iíve seen the anguish in the river of her tears that the memories bring. Iíve witnessed the confusion, the tangle of time and place, these old letters and cards have inflicted upon her mind.
Hubby and I have also felt the incriminating sting of her anger in those moments when she remembers that her house has been sold; in those moments when she believes that she could still be living by herself in that three story house; in those moments when she thinks she is still capable of riding the city bus to do her shopping alone as she always did. In those moments when she hates us, I say little or nothing.
I try not to watch her eat. She pays no attention to our small talk. I have the sense that because she lived alone for over sixty years, her space at the table has become a personal sanctuary. I offer her a second helping. Iím thankful that, among all of her losses, her appetite is not lost. She still enjoys good food.
But now as we sit quietly eating, I wonder how long it will be before her care will need to be turned over to professionals in a skilled care facility. A profound sadness settles over me. I smile to conceal my thoughts and get up to prepare dessert.
A transplant to South Carolina from Pennsylvania, Dee enjoys exploring sites of interest with friends, reading the old fashioned way-holding a book, and writing short stories. Some of her short stories have appeared in publications of Immaculata College and the Osher LLI at Coastal Carolina University, and most recently, in More Stories on the Windswept press web site.