When You Forget How to Remember
Gram tells stories that trail off, fading faster than echoes yelled from the edge of a cliff. “I knew a girl named Norma, she never wore pearls and the kitchen.” Gram is backlit by a pool of early afternoon sunlight seeping in through the half closed blinds. “When I met Roger he still had hair,” she says from the wide floral armchair under the window. The narrow room makes her seem small, her delicate shoulders and slender neck silhouetted against the light. The warm scent of butterscotch and chamomile tea hangs thick in the air, floating from the kitchen down the hall. One of Gram’s nurses is preparing a snack. A stranger in white opens the door to the drawing room and Gram’s mind leaves again. She doesn’t remember reading me fairytales about trolls or billy goats or princesses. She doesn’t remember sending me postcards from Rome or Paris or California. She doesn’t remember where she bought the antique pie chest I will inherit one day. One last hug and I am told to leave. Her lucidity is fleeting even on her good days. I will eventually forget too. I will forget how she used to bake cornbread on cool November nights. I will forget her white seersucker shirt splattered with red sauce, the smell of her perfume mixed with garlic and how I used to see my reflection in the locket she gave my mother. I am a stranger to her the same as everyone.