By Denise Sklar
My mother got to spend the last five months with Gloria after joining the elderly day care center. She was surprised to find Gloria there and sad to see how much her condition had deteriorated. She knew this after the first week when they went to the ladies room together and Gloria directed my mother to the stall and told her, “I’ll just go here”. That’s when she pulled down her pants and peed into the trash barrel. In those months together, Gloria remembered and forgot who my mother was, over and over, asked if she was married to Johnny, and cried when hearing about my father’s death as if it were the first time. She would forget, then ask about him again, cry again. She was his niece, older than him by one year because my father’s oldest sister Gina gave birth to Gloria before he was born. Now both in their eighties, my mother and Gloria talked less and less about the past, but had the chance to sit together, eat, hold hands, dance and enjoy the day to day activities. Before she broke her arm and got that infection and died.
My mother still goes to the elderly center two days a week; on Thursdays there is the scheduled dance with all the senior citizens. She will miss Gloria but no longer has to explain how Gloria, four years older than her, is her niece. She is a happy memory fading, especially the last one, the time when Gloria wouldn’t get up to dance but wanted to see my mother get up anyway. To make her happy, my mother signaled the nice gentleman from across the room. Alone on the dance floor, they danced while everyone watched, and Gloria cheered her on, “Shake it up, Mary, shake it up!”
Denise Mostacci Sklar has had a career as a dancer and now has had the good fortune to discover writing as another way to move through life. She particularly enjoys the stillness… waiting for words to make an entrance. Her most current work is forthcoming in Wilderness House Literary Review, Thrush Poetry Journal and Emerge Literary Journal. She is from Hamilton, MA.
Artwork: Will you remember!, by Maria Khan (charcoal on canvas)