And so it ends.
The final walk-through of her apartment
With the woman with the clipboard,
Ticking off the things to come off the security deposit.
The nicks on the paint of the stove that will be replaced anyway;
The paint on the carpet where the apartment maintenance crew dripped;
Oh wait, when a lease is terminated through death
The security deposit is forfeit.
Fine, whatever, we knew you’d find any excuse to keep her money
(To keep OUR money).
Turn in the keys,
The extras made for the family,
The extras made for the caretakers,
The extras made for the emergency responders.
Good bye apartment,
Good bye Saturday Game Days,
Good bye Sunday dinners,
Good bye holiday decorating,
Good bye family get-togethers.
Good bye, Mom.
And so it begins.
The phone call from the sister a time zone away,
Visiting their parents from three time zones away.
Mom tried to leave the house,
Tried to get back to her mother,
Worried that her mother didn’t know where she was.
(Her mother is under a marker behind the family farm,
Downstate, where she’s slept since 1983;
A long trip for someone with a walker and two metal hips.)
The husband whose wife of 60 years
Told him last week that she wants a divorce;
The wife who strokes his back
While he sits there crying
Not understanding why he weeps.
The story Mom tells to the stranger in front of her,
How proud she is of her daughter.
The stranger smiles and laughs at the right spots
And tries not to let her mother see the tears.
The visit to the familial doctor (the now unfamiliar doctor),
Who diagnoses advanced dementia
Without ever using the word “Alzheimer’s”
(Because the new medications say that in all their supplemental information).
The son who sees madness
In bringing into his life
A couple he’s fled from for 40 years;
Who got his wife back
After his mother-in-law’s long illness
And now fears he will lose her again,
Along with his hope for a happy future
As his parents bleed away his peace and retirement funds.
And so it goes.