Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

In Her Moccasins

“I really like him. The big Indian. He’s really nice to me. He made these for me.” She pointed to the Minnetonka brand moccasins on her feet and sighed contentedly.
“Really? Those are great. It’s nice to have someone like that around.” Who was she talking about? Was he even real?
She nodded and smiled. “Anyway. I like it here. It’s nice and clean and my bed in the other room is clean and well made. Not like the other place. I’m never staying there again.”
She’d lived in this house for over twenty years.
“Was the other place dirty?”
“Oh yes. I’m not going back there. I think I’ll stay here.” She shifted and sighed once more. “Anyway. I don’t do much anymore.” She gestured towards her cane. I knew she’d fallen a few times and had broken various bones. “I can still take care of the kids. They’re spoilt. Their parent… the grandparents spoil them rotten.”
“With candy?”
She nodded and smiled. “Yes, with candy and… and everything.” she looked around her. “I don’t know where they are.” She frowned, then shook her head in frustration. “My brain doesn’t work anymore.”
“Mine doesn’t work as well is it used to either.”
She babbled on for over half an hour, her “Anyway”s marking a shift to a new topic. Sometimes it seemed that she’d lost her train of thought. Other times it was more abrupt, as if she’d got frustrated and needed to retreat and regroup.
As long as I drifted along with her, wherever she went, she seemed happy.
The only time I tried to keep her from straying off topic was when she spoke of the two kids she babysat. Wondering whether she was referring to her two older children, I asked for their names. But she became agitated, fidgeting with the hem of her dress, shifting in her seat.
I immediately backed off and changed the subject. My eyes swept around the living room. “This is a really nice house.” and she was off and running, babbling away.
I saw myself in her, the way I was shortly after the brain stem surgery. I remembered the confusion, my pathetic attempts to join a conversation I couldn’t track, tuning in and out, and worst of all—knowing.