She takes one step at a time. Puts one foot in front of the other. Day after day, she rises from bed, cares for the one who gave her life. Cares for the house she planned on living in (till death do us part) with her husband. Digs in the earth, gives plants a chance at life. Takes meals to a neighbor who are suffering a slow march to the end of God-only-knows-what (ovarian cancer).
Cares for the one who gave her life (not that many years ago--after all, now midlife is 50 isn’t it?). Sits with her, talks to her, answers the same questions over (and over and over and over again). Walks down to the ice cream parlor. “There’s always free ice cream, anytime you want it,” the matriarch says. “This is a fancy place. Must cost a lot. My daughter takes care of me.”
She leaves, goes home, sorts through a lifetime of collections. Tools (and tools and tools and tools and tools) that were supposed to fill the left side of the workshop they had begun to build together. John Deere tractors that filled his bookshelves at work. Computers that he used to educate farmers on how to manage their money better. Puppets, autographed sports balls, wood. Oh the wood. Unplaned cherry, mahogany. Stored up for a later time. A time that never would come.
She sorts, she sells, she cleans, she organizes.
She cares for the one who gave her life. This time, the matriarch is in the dining room. (Oh good, maybe she finally wants to eat.) “How did you find me here?” she asks the one she gave life to, not that many years ago. “I have to go--he’s looking for me. My husband is looking for me.” (He’s been gone almost 30 years. Did he come back for her? Is he really standing in the highway, calling her name?)
“Mom, it’s me. Are you looking for Dad? Is he the one calling for you?”
“No, it’s my husband, Charlie. You don’t know him.”
She cares for the one who gave her life. Helps her get into bed, sits by her side and rubs her back until she is almost asleep. Ninety-five years is a very long time. A long life. Why does it seem like it’s not? Sixty-one years is even less. So little time here. So many people to care for. So little time, so much to do.
She takes one step at a time. Puts one foot in front of the other.
We take one step at a time. Put one foot in front of the other.