Sunday, July 18, 2010


There is a lady in front of me , as I walk the walkway to the front door of the nursing home. She very quickly punches in the security code, so I am spared doing so.
As I enter the lobby, I catch a glimpse of my mama rolling her wheel chair around the corner…I figure she is headed toward her room, but as I rounded the corner, I find that I had been wrong…my mama has stopped to chat with a lady. A lady  that is in a semi-comatose state. Mama is holding a pretty good one sided conversation with her as I come up behind her. I grab hold of the handles to her chair and say “Hello mama, I love you!”  She quickly turns her head to be able to see who has hold of her and says, “ Have you come to roll me back to my room?”
I stare into her blue eyes and I wait for a flicker of recognition. When it finally comes, she thinks I am her long dead cousin’s daughter…and my heart sinks.
I know this is going to be another hard visit.
I slowly roll her to her room and when we get there, we both notice that the room is cold as ice…so I quickly go and turn the air down… because my Mama is cold natured.
When I get that done, I turn and go back to her and sit on her bed. She is sitting there with the brightest smile on her face. I ask her how she has been doing and she quickly tells me about the cold she has…a cold that she has had for years…and how it is all in her chest. (Where this pretend cold came from and why it has stuck around in her mind all these years, no one knows, but I believe it is her way of knowing that she has to have help because she is sick….Through all the years that I have known her, my mama never let anyone help her, or tend to her…so I figure that in her mind, she has to be sick to stay in the ‘hospital’.)
Mama asks me who I am…and I tell her, "Mama, I am Carlene; your baby.” She thinks about that for only a  minute before her face lights up and her eyes begin to sparkle and she says, “Carlene! Are you my baby girl?” My heart lifts and just as I am saying , “Yes, mama, I am your baby”…I see her eyes begin to dull and glaze over and I know that she has already forgotten me…her baby girl. My mama has no short term memory left and what you tell her only remains for a minute before it is gone…and forgotten.
Here is part of the conversation we had today…..

Mama: “ How’s your mama?”
Me: “ She is okay”  ( I learned  a while back not to antagonize her by trying to get her to understand the truth…and my mama is okay…sort of.)
Mama: “Why don’t you come live with us? I will make sure that you have plenty to eat”  ( I don’t know yet who the ‘us’ is…but that’s my mama for you…always worried about folks going hungry…)
Me: “I can’t…I have to work”
Mama: “ What…I can’t hear you. Tell it to this ear.” ( she leans forward and points to her right ear.)
Me:I have to work!” ( leaning forward and trying to talk loudly into her ear and trying to make sure my pronunciation is clear)
Mama: “ Whaaaaaaat???? I can’t hear you…try it again” as she shakes her ear vigorously and leans forward….again.
Me: I have to work, I can’t live with you.”  ( I say this as I am groping around in my purse to find an ink pen and piece of paper…It is strange how her hearing improves when I start writing what I say down!
Mama:Please come and live with us…you won’t have no worries, no rentnothing…” She is smiling and clapping her hands now like a little girl….
Me: “ Okay mama”
Mama: “ Really!!?…My Mama loves you to death and I won’t let the kids bother you” (She is talking about her mama…Who the kids are, I don’t know…unless they are us…me and my sisters and brothers back in the past)
Mama: “ Are  you staying with your mama? How is Aunt Hallie Armour? She was my favorite aunt! Please tell her that I love her. She can come live with us too! After you left that least time,  I missed you so much. ” 
I am just nodding silently now…
Mama:  “I’ve been going to school…are you still in school too? I can quit…the way things are now…”  ( she lets the rest just hang there.
Mama: “ Why don’t you come live with us? Walt loves yall too.  Do you like the country?” ( ‘Walt’ was my daddy…my hero…the man I thought walked on water….He died in 1985. ‘The country’ is where we grew up…on HORSESHOE BEND.)
Mama: “ I don’t know when they are going to come get me…they haven’t said.” ( I don’t know what she meant by this…but it gave me an eerie feeling, since she had been talking about all those loved ones that have gone on to the afterlife…)
By this time, I am silently nodding…biting my lip and trying my damndest to swallow the ever growing lump in my throat and not  cry in front of her as I tell her I have to leave…and yes, I may be back tonight……
As I go stand out in the hall…the nurse finds me crying and asks what is wrong…when I tell her how mama doesn’t know me and how it hurts so bad….she says that maybe I should come more and more often and stay longer and longer each time I come …
Now, I know she is trying her best to be helpful, but I am thinking…
Dear Lord…Can’t she see how this is killing me????
There is no daddy anymore….
There is no granny….
 There is no home back on HORSESHOE BEND
They are all gone….
Except in her mind.

Sunday, July 4, 2010



Today was such a hard day at work…It being the Fourth of July weekend brought us many, many orders for Bar-B-Que and Stew…I am pretty sure that we sold well over 100 pounds within the first hour of opening.

By the time 6:00 pm came around, for some reason, my back was torturing me. Even taking 3 Motrin didn’t cut the pain one iota…so I just kept on going …. trying not to look at the time, but keep working towards the goal of getting everything done that needed to be done….and let me tell you…though I work hard sometimes, my boss lady works harder and never have I heard her complain.

When I got home, I did something I don’t ever do, I immediately went to my room and laid down trying to ease the pain. After a few minutes, miraculously, the pain had actually eased up enough to let me get up and take Dan to get something to eat.

I keep my car radio tuned to the Greensboro radio station, and tonight they were playing the old rock and roll songs. Songs from the sixties and seventies. Songs that never fail to bring back memories.

On the way back from the interstate, where I got our supper, a song came on that I had not heard in a long, long time…and hearing the words  immediately took me back to my teen years. Funny how just listening to certain songs can transport you back in time.

I don’t know whether it was the fact that me and Dan were riding with the car widows down in order to feel the unnaturally cool summer breeze while we slowly rode down the main street in our little town, or  if it were the song’s haunting melody…but hearing it took me through a time warp.

It  just seemed like all the right elements were there and they were coming together…forming a time machine to take me back to those golden days of my youth…Let me tell you, for some reason, tonight,  that time in my life was so close that I could honestly feel it and almost, just almost…. touch it.

Long ago scenes flashed in my mind’s eye like snapshots…living pictures from my past…special moments frozen in time…some important, some seemingly not.

Passing the old Greensboro High School, I saw me and Danny standing in front of the wall that  lead to the lunch room and he is telling me that he loved me….and when I got to the middle of town, I could see us parked in front of the City Cafe….talking and holding hands…neither of us with a care n the world.

If only I could go back and know then what I know now.

Oh, and the song that was playing???  Danny use to tell me to “listen to the words, Carlene” and I would see how he truly felt about me…

Well, I listened to the words tonight Danny….

Here it is…lyrics and all…

Bridge Over Troubled Water

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I’m on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

When you’re down and out,
When you’re on the street,
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water 
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Sail on silver girl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind.

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

Danny was my ‘bridge over troubled waters’….

And I miss him so much sometimes'…

 that it takes my breath away…..

Like tonight.