17. Wake Up!
pia z. ehrhardt
Posted on September 9, 2020
New Year’s Eve, Mom watched fireworks on the TV in her apartment not in the lobby with the residents and staff. They treat her well and with curiosity. “Won’t you play for us?” the staff says. They’ve noticed the violin case beside the bed. This is where my mother keeps what she worries the staff will steal, which is becoming everything she owns.
I called the next day from Queens. “I need my new wheelchair,” she said. “Because I can’t leave my room.”
“I know,” I said. “It’s on the way.”
She was watching football. She’s from Detroit, but her teams are the Packers and the Saints. “Will they play each other in the Super Bowl?” she asked.
“Not likely,” I said. “Are you watching in the living room?” I asked.
“In my bedroom,” she said. “Where I’m stuck until you get me the right wheelchair.”
I promise her when I’m back, I’ll bring her a slice of key lime pie, a box of the Ritz crackers she lavishes with her peanut butter, and almond-scented hand cream because flower smells irritate her, when she used to radiate the gentlest rose scent, a scent I wear for her.
I fear the returning and re-trying, re-delivering, re-assembling, all the re words that have no resolution but are required to get her into the correct wheelchair I don’t believe exists. Because all she is now is uncomfortable. Why doesn’t our mother sleep under the caress of sheets? Does she miss her flowy nightgowns? The blinds are snapped shut, a deeper burrowing, a narrowing of a shrinking space. Doesn’t she miss the sun kissing her face? She will never walk again, but will she stand? The love seat in the other room is unused, unloved, until someone visits, a daughter bringing with her a wheelchair.