by Bev Letsche (St Lawrence, SD)
Yesterday she reminded me to pick her up before ten.
This morning she didn’t remember we were going anywhere.
She remembers last week the doctor said she has COPD,
But she has forgotten the heart murmur she has had for eighty-plus years.
It is happening right before my eyes,
The woman I have always known is fading, fragmenting.
But her colors aren’t quite as bright,
The hues softer, not as intense,
The occasional piece missing entirely.
So, I chose to spend the whole day with her
Not just the few hours we had planned.
I clean drawers,
Look at old photos,
Inconsequential, every day things.
I leave with a hug that makes her slightly uncomfortable,
But she accepts it and even hugs me back,
An expression of affection unfamiliar to her until recently.
At home, I collect comforting hugs from my husband,
Then sit down at the machine she taught me to use,
Fill the bobbin, adjust the chair and light.
My hand caresses the fabric
from shirts that remind her
of friends, of joy, of love.
I lower the needle and watch as it moves up, then down again,
The first of many stitches I place
Hoping to hold her together
Just a little longer in this quilt of memories.