Papers stacked to the ceiling surrounded the living room area, only surpassed by chipped dishes covered in crusted food and mold. We kicked the debris in front of us in opposite directions, hoping to make a pathway for ourselves to a destination of which we were unsure.
I don’t know what we thought we’d find that day, maybe some patchwork explanation as to when and how it had gotten so bad. In the months leading up to her passing, Charlie and I took turns trying to speak to her every day, but she never spoke long, and eventually we stopped trying.
I remember two summers ago my girls and I dropped in for a visit that didn’t go over well. Now, I will admit, stopping by unannounced was rude of me, but I didn’t know what else to do. I was worried, a bit about her, but mostly that if left to her unfulfilled promises, the kids would never know her.
She answered the door in a limp, faded night gown with her gray plaits matted in some spots and broken off in others. “What are you doing here? You should have called, what’s wrong with you?” she demanded. Slightly embarrassed at my own behavior rather than her reprimand, I mustered up a response with a half-hearted smile, “I-I brought the kids.”
I’ll never forget the look on her face when she peered behind me to see her doe-eyed grandchildren cautiously waiving. I hadn’t seen such terror in her eyes since Kenneth died.
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