By Jacqueline Doyle.
“Where are these from?” my mother asks, reaching for another cookie. She’s had her silver-gray hair permed in honor of our visit, and she’s wearing brown polyester slacks and a coordinating gold and orange blouse. I suspect she rarely wears anything but dingy cotton housedresses when we’re not here. Even though she has two walk-in closets crammed with clothes, she prefers to save them for special occasions. She’s been sleeping a lot since my father died, complaining of colds and headaches, too tired to bother to get dressed.
“They’re from Panini’s. You know, the place where we had lunch?” I try again. “You know, the place where we had lunch today?” After a pause, “You know. The sandwich place. By Walgreen’s. Today.”
My mother stares at me. Wide-eyed. Blank.
“They’re good, aren’t they,” I say nervously, wondering whether my husband Steve and son Ben have noticed. Mom isn’t reacting to her lapse at all. But then she has always shifted quickly into denial when something uncomfortable comes up. I wonder how she’s managing to take her medications, pay her bills, how long she can get by like this.