A creeping shadow

Seasons“Mom, I have exciting news about our house.” Carol sat down on the edge of the bed, putting one hand on her mother’s wheelchair. “We finally got the living room re-decorated. New paint. New carpet. New drapes. I can’t wait to show you.”

Her mother stared at the white wall of the small nursing home bedroom, her eyes half closed. A late-afternoon shadow creeped across the wall.

“Mom?” Carol leaned forward and her mother stirred.

“That’s nice,” Mom said. “Did I tell you about those people who visited me last night? They said this was my last night. I don’t know what they were talking about.”

Carol’s shoulders drooped a bit. “Last night? What do you mean?”

“They meant it was my last night and then—“ Mom pointed upward.

“Well, you’re still here so I guess they were wrong. Who were they?”

Mom shook her head. “I don’t know. I heard them out in the hall talking. They said last night was my last night and then they’d put someone else in this room.”

“Do you think you were dreaming?”

“I don’t think so. I heard them.”

Once Carol had shown her mother every new change in her life. The new drapes. The new towels. Even the new recipe.

But that mother was gone, leaving this one in her place who could barely distinguish dream and dialogue. Carol watched the afternoon shadow creeping across Mom’s face. She wanted to push it away.

Instead, Carol put her arm around her mother’s shoulders. “I’m glad you’re still here. I think you had a bad dream. Really.”


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