A year ago, Ma and I trolled the cloth store picked out yards and yards of cotton prints for shorts and skirts. Now she sits and stares at nothing, and getting her attention is iffy. Some days are better than others but the good ones are getting further apart. Now at the cloth store she sits at the pattern catalog counter while I look around.
I got a” set-up going that looked real smart on paper, but it hurts my ragged heart to have to leave my cabin home real early every Monday morning to get to work in town. I’m still in Kentucky, but have to go from the middle of it to a big town on the Ohio River. Then all through the week I live in a crusty old house with the floors propped up by sticks in the basement. When Ma moved in, I got the running water and furnace fixed. I’m 15 minutes from work, and eliminated all that wear and tear on me and the Subaru. I count the hours until I can get home again.
Anyhow, driving from the cabin to town is a despondent hour or two, depending on the weather. It’s an ordeal to get Ma ready to go so early besides gathering all my plunder. I don’t have time to make coffee and clean up the pot and all, so it’s tough to stay alert. Having a zombie to ride with does not help in the least.
So here I am winding through the narrow rural roads to get to the highway that goes to the Parkway right at sunrise. Though I knew it to be a worthless effort, I told Ma to keep her eyes peeled for deer. Then for some reason, I started talking with a high pitched deep South accent, seein’ as she was born and raised on the barrier islands off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.
“Y’all keep them eyes peeled for them there deer. Now if you were a tater, y’all would have eyes too, but if ya peeled them, they’d be long gone. So watch how ya peel them eyes, ya hear?”
She laughed! I mean actually listened to what I said, understood it and thought it was funny. I was so stunned, I almost missed my ramp to the parkway.
Me: “Looky there at them there RAIN clouds, you see that straight up gray in the sky over yonder?”
Ma: “Yes, that must the RAIN.”
Me: “That’s right, pourin’ down in great torrents. Ye doggies! Did y’all see that lightnin’?”
Ma: Ooo, I’m afraid of lightning.”
Me: “Aw, ain’t no cause for y’all to fear the lightning. Ain’t no way for one of them there bolts to get to the your scrawny little body. Ye kitties! Did ya see that one, haaaw!”
Ma! “That was a big one!”
Me: “They so danged purty, those glorious swords from heaven. They use those swords to chase out the stray animals that get up there; they don’t care for the dogs howling with the choir. You know if it’s stormin’ cats and dogs, y’all gotta keep them windows rolled up tight as we got enough dogs and cats already. Unless there’s a calico that is, ‘cause I could make you a fine summertime nightgown out a nice bit of calico.”
Ma conversed like a regular person, like she would have a year or two ago. She really participated and was interested. The magic had vanished by the time I came in from work. She sat on the screened-in porch in her rocking chair until very late, eating her supper out there. She didn’t recognize any questions unless I asked them three times, louder each time. She couldn’t remember my name.
It was grand while it lasted.