Caleb, Chloe, and Hannah Grace looked on as their mother visited with their kids. She sat with a stern look while the children obediently, albeit reluctantly, engaged in polite conversation.
“Grandma, I hit a double last night and got an RBI. We ended up winning our game,” said Caleb’s son, the most talkative of the grandchildren.
“Very good,” his grandmother nodded. “Your father was excellent at sports.”
“What about you?” the old woman directed her question at the pretty blonde girl.
“I’m still dancing, Grandma. I have my jazz recital coming up in a few weeks. You can come, if you want.”
“Hmmph,” snuffed her grandmother. “If I wanted to watch half-naked girls dancing all over the place, I’d turn on HBO. I can’t believe your mother lets you get up on stage looking like a floozy. Thanks to the girls who went to Woodstock, you teenagers think you need to take off your clothes all the time to impress people. Well, you’re not impressing me!”
The pretty blonde turned her head slightly so that she could roll her eyes, crossed one leg over the other, and cupped her chin in her hand. They had all heard this story a million times, and she wasn’t interested in learning about the beginning of the downfall of society any more.
“Looking back, do you think Mom ever showed signs of having dementia–I mean, earlier on in life?” Chloe asked her brother and sister. She tucked her legs under her and shifted, trying to find a more comfortable position on the long green couch where she had been resting.
Hannah Grace looked up thoughtfully from her place on the couch, but it was Caleb who spoke first.
“I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. And I don’t know why, but this one event always stands out in my mind.”
Of course, Caleb jumped right to the end of the story, not knowing or understanding the thoughts in his mother’s mind that led to this one moment. He didn’t remember the events of the day that helped create his mother’s state of mind. If he had, this particular event would’ve taken a very different spot in his memory than it did.
There wasn’t anything special about this day many years back in the old woman’s life. In fact, she would’ve told you the day was anything but special. The 30-something year old woman was convinced she was raising little elves, grappling at her knees, whining their high-pitched requests all day long. No one was listening to her, and she was so tired–not just physically tired but mentally exhausted.
It was one of those days when she doubted her ability as a mother. She wondered many times, “Am I doing my children more harm than good by staying home? Should I just a get a job and make all of us happy?” Of course, she didn’t want to go back to work, but she felt ineffective. She tried to discipline her children, but nothing seemed to stick–time-outs, they were pointless; swats on the bottom–they made her feel guilty. How could she correct her children’s behavior if she didn’t even know in which method she believed?
When she heard her husband’s car pull into the driveway, she left the dinner she was attempting to prepare to meet him. She gave him the baby that was on her hip and left the two little elves that were following at her heels. Amidst the cries of, “Daddy, Daddy!” she fled to the mailbox. She pulled out the stack of mail and began flipping through the long envelopes.
She began her slow walk back towards the house and stopped suddenly. Mr. Davis looked up from the children gathered around his ankles and headed down the driveway towards her.
“What’s wrong?” he questioned, concerned by the look on his wife’s face.
And it was at this point in the story that Caleb began.
He described how the crazy old lady bent down and scooped up her daughter, swinging her around. She then grabbed Caleb and gave him a huge kiss on the cheek.
“Nothing,” she answered, smoothing the hair on the baby’s head, a smile forming on her lips. “Nothing at all.”
She turned this particular envelope around to show her husband the dark letters that stood out through the plastic window. She actually had tears in her eyes.
“I have jury duty.” The words left her mouth like a sigh of relief. She continued on into the house, a slight bounce in her step.
“Caleb,” Hannah Grace chimed in, “I don’t think Mom’s being excited about jury duty had anything to do with her dementia.”
“I know,” Caleb said. “I guess her reaction seemed strange to me, especially later on after I learned what jury duty was.”
Chloe looked over at the kids. Caleb’s son had just said something to annoy the pretty blonde, and she slapped him hard on the arm. “Maybe,” Chloe said. “But I think I understand.”
If you’d like to read more short stories in “The Crazy Old Bat” series, click on “Crazy Old Bat” in the tag cloud or the links below: