photo by Martin Brigden
He walks alongside us up and down the halls. His belt is tightly cinched around his narrow waist, his flannel shirt tucked in.
Raymond says, “Where are we going?”
“This way,” I say, pointing down the corridor in the direction of the sun room.
“I forgot my money,” he says.
“Do you need to buy something?” I say.
“Maybe it’s in your room,” I say.
We walk in silence for a bit, then he says, “Christ!” He seems exasperated, but only momentarily.
I wheel Mom to the elevator when it’s time for me to leave.
Dottie, the second shift nurse, and Connie, a CNA, and Raymond are gathered around. Dottie swipes her ID card above the elevator button. This is a “locked” unit.
While we wait for the elevator, Dottie says, “Your mom used to stay up late-till around 10 or so—but now she’s usually in bed between 7:30 and 8. Right, Katherine?” Dottie giggles.
“Yes, I get tired,” Mom says.
“Is she eating well?” I ask.
“Yes, for the most part. Sometimes there are things on her tray that she doesn’t like.”
I stroke the back of Mom’s head. She seems to like that.
The elevator door opens, and I kiss her on the forehead.
“You’re leaving now?” she says.
“Yes, Mom. See you next week.”
Raymond moves toward the open elevator.
“I’ve got to go,” he says.
Dottie holds him by his right arm, and Connie, by his left.
“Not now, Raymond,” Dottie says, giggling. Dottie’s a giggler. I think it’s a nervous thing.
“But I have to go,” he says, lurching forward.
I smile at Mom, Dottie and Connie. I don’t know what to tell Raymond as his eyes search my face through his thick glasses, confused.
*Pseudonyms used for residents and staff members at the Actors Home.