For three days I’ve not left the comfort of my jammies. I’ve not had a meal that didn’t include mashed potatoes slathered in butter and salted with tears. I’ve not had an hour in which I haven’t caught myself staring off into space with something like prayerful utterances falling from my lips. I’ve been conspicuously absent here from the Bloggybirdery, as well as, from myself.
You see, the beautiful Loretta has died.
The first time I met Loretta, she was already well into the confusion of Alzheimer’s disease. But she looked at me with eyes that seemed like soft blue velvet. She held out one small hand, frail as a sparrow’s wing, toward my direction. “I can’t see you,” she said. I realized then that her eyes were soft because they no longer held the hard visions of life. Forgetful AND blind. She held onto my hand, but she couldn’t hold onto my name. Nevertheless, from that first moment of introduction, she treated me as if I were a beloved. “Would you like some chocolates, dear? Someone brought them to me, but I don’t know who it was.” It was me. “Can I get you anything, sweetie?” Oh my, if only she could. “Dan says you take good care of him — thank you.” Such grace.
Those little snippets of conversation became commonplace. She had every reason to be a bitter woman, swallowed by a wheelchair and all the reasons that confined her to it. But she was always as soft as those blue velvet eyes. Always dear. Ever a lady. The mother who taught my husband to pick up his socks, put his coffee cup in the dishwasher, and always … always … treat me as an equal.
When I met her, she was already in a nursing home surrounded by a staff of caretakers. One of the residents, a gentleman named Ivan, had proclaimed himself her “proper suitor,” doting on her every gentle movement. Loretta ignored him. “He’s too old for me,” she would wink. Then she’d retreat within those eyes of hers and stay lost for hours. Now and then she’d come up for air, admonishing me to “do everything you can before you’re old and blind like me.” Her own “Bucket List” was all but forgotten. Nevertheless, she reminded me often to work on mine.
When the phone call came the other day, it wasn’t altogether unexpected. For two decades, she had been in a long protracted holding pattern, waiting for this day. Knowing Loretta, it was an elegant landing.
Now I’m messing up her perfect moment by splashing tears and laments all over the place. Dan is on his way to Seattle for his mother’s funeral. I’m home alone with the doggies, my miserable leg, and all those little moments when a prayer slips across my thoughts.
God speed, dear Loretta. May those blue velvet eyes see the Heaven you are surely in now.