Late November 2011: I get up early and spend time on my laptop in the den until Mom wakes up and makes her way down the steep stairs to join me.
I know she’s coming because the den is below her bedroom and I hear her footsteps on the wide pine floorboards above when she walks across the room. On happy days like this one, she peaks her head through the door and says “What you doing Punkie?” She omits the “are” from sentences when she’s being playful.
“I’m on my computer Mom.” She comes in and sits beside me on the sofa. We make small talk for awhile, and then migrate to the kitchen where I fix us some breakfast:
- one ruby red grapefruit cut in half and sectioned, one half for Mom, the other for me;
- two pieces of seven-grain-bread toast with honey for Mom, pumpernickel toast and honey for me; she doesn’t know how I “can eat that old black bread!”
- two mugs of hot tea poured fresh from the pot with the taupe and cream cozy on it. Mom has her tea with milk. I have mine with milk and artificial sweetener. Some days she clowns around and puts the tea cozy on her head.
Mom wants to participate; she lends a hand by buttering the toast. We eat at the half-moon table in the kitchen and watch the chickadees at the feeder in the window beside us. Mom is still in her nightgown, socks and slippers; I got dressed when I got up. I haven’t worn a nightgown since my early teens and I don’t have a housecoat either, fraternal twin facts that still astound Mom. Like the continental breakfast, our conversation is light.
“It’s chilly out Mom.” I checked the outdoor thermometer earlier.
“Yeah. It looks a bit chilly. But the sun is shining.” Mom peers out the window past the feeder and the chickadees, stares at the weather as if the temperature could be seen. She goes back to her plate, takes a bite of her toast, sips her tea, and turns to me.
“It’s a bit chilly, but I think it’s going to be a nice day,” she says as if it’s the first rather than the fifth or sixth time she’s shared that news with me.
“Yeah I think so,” I reconfirm. Again. “Do you want more tea Mom? It’s still hot.”
“That would be nice,” she says.
I fetch the pot and pour her a second mug. We linger a bit watching the birds. We’re not in a hurry. We don’t have anything other than being planned for the day. I put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher and clear the counters before we go back upstairs; I’m one step below her on the way up in case she should falter.
She made her bed before she came down. It used to frustrate the hell out her when I didn’t follow her example and make mine according to her schedule (i.e. immediately upon arising), but she often doesn’t make hers now. Making the bed now usually comes after she’s had a shower and gotten dressed. Today is an exception. We ease into the shower routine, which can sometimes be a little challenging. I crank up the electric heat in her ensuite bathroom and run warm water in the shower while she and I choose her outfit for the day. It goes like this:
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