Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My great aunt became too frail to care for herself so she was moved from the south side of Saint Louis to our little corner of the Midwest, about six hours away.

“You can move in with us.” My mother told her, trying to put a happy spin on an unpleasant situation.

“Oh, you two could never afford me.”

She seemed to ignore the fact that my father had been supporting her since he started working. She went into an expensive retirement home near us. I’ve seen the bad ones, the smell of urine is overpowering. Pity the old with no funds.

Her looks seemed to change overnight. She could no longer have her hair dyed the bright red of her youth so she began wearing hats, which she would fumble with to keep her head covered. I hadn’t realized how dark she kept her house until I saw her under the blaring lights of the old folks home.

I went to visit her after a prolonged absents. The nurse told me she was in the community room. I looked around there were about 20 residents watching TV in various stages of decay. I couldn’t see her anywhere. One older woman was staring at me. We looked at each other for a good long while. I walked up to her, still not sure and I had to ask, “Aunt Nora?”

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