12 Jul Apples

by Marina Tinone SP15 TA17

They were pretty. The little red flowers, all bunched together. The apartment window open, and the light coming through.

I watered the flowers. And I thought that if Grandma were the one watering them, she would be singing. So, I sang the flowers a lullaby, just in case the flowers missed her care. This is a happy place for me—me singing to flowers, Mom drying the dishes, Grandma thinking of things to do with her daughter and her granddaughter. A grandmother, a mother, a daughter in their places.

But once a mother, always a mother. The evening after I had watered Grandma’s flowers, Mom caught a stomach bug. Grandma cancelled everything she had planned for us that evening and called me to the kitchen. She pushed a platter of apple slices, their skin already peeled away. “When you’re sick, you have to eat apples. Apples. Now go give them to her, she isn’t feeling well, she needs apples. Go give them to her, and then come back to give her the tea. It’s chamomile. But it has to cool because it can’t be too hot. Go quickly!”

Mom laughed at Grandma’s frenzied worry. A grown woman accepting her elderly mother’s care. Once a daughter, always a daughter. There is a special place for all of us.

But Grandma has been out of place. She tells me to go to the deli just around the corner, and Mom whispers, “that deli closed twenty years ago.” On her seventy-second birthday, she turned sixty-five. We congratulated her, and then we helped blow out the candles.

It’s dark and Grandma is asleep. Our tea is untouched on the table. “Can you imagine how scared Grandma really is?” Mom said, facing me. I looked down at my lap, not meeting Mom’s eyes. Daughters, wondering where she would be when her mother would no longer recognize her.

I imagine her nervous. Scared, calling out a familiar name. Opening a window. The sunlight on the wood floors. Watering plants. Waiting for someone to come. Not knowing what is missing. Washed dishes dripping in the rack beside the sink. Apples, with their peels in a bowl.

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