Saturday, September 17, 2011

Where Did She Go?

Today I wanted to share a tiny short story with you. For my
 mother-in-law, Marilyn...

       Where Did She Go?
                     by Jerri Hines

            Time is a relative thing. Isn’t it? I mean the older we get the faster it ticks away. There are never enough hours in the day. Running late as usual, I stopped by for a quick visit. Have to. Haven’t been by in awhile.

            The backdoor open, I walked in, sliding back the screen door to find Mom sitting in her chair. She smiled up at me, the most beautiful smile. A laugh escaped her, a laugh to die for. The house used to echo her laughter.

            “Oh, it’s you. You have come to visit,” she said.

            I smiled back at her. It’s been years since she said my name. I looked over at Dad. It has been one of those days I can see. His tired worn eyes betrayed him, but not his words.

            Leaning over and kissing Mom’s cheek, I turned to Dad. “Why don’t you go out? I’m here for as long as you need me. Pat is at a dinner for work.”

            “Do you mind? I could run down to the Knight’s?” he asked.

            “Not a problem,” I answered, reprimanding myself. I should have come by more often and watched her for him.

            Realizing in that moment, I have taken my older sister, Donna, for granted. She has taken the blunt of this. Never having married, I had convinced myself she had the time to look after Mom and Dad. Forgetting perhaps, she was my mother, too.

            I watched Dad leave from the window and turned back to Mom.

            “Where did that man go?” she asked.

            I sighed.“He’ll be right back.”

            “Who?” she asked. She stood up and walked toward the kitchen.

            “Are you hungry? Let me fix you something,” I said while following her.

            She leaned down and picked up a tiny, tiny scrap of paper on the floor. I wondered for a moment how could she have seen it. She picked it up and placed it in the palm of her hand.     

            “Do you want me to take that?”

            She doesn’t answer, but I reached over and took it. Throwing it in the garbage, I watched her walk over to the table, rearranging the centerpiece. She turned back to me.

            “Where did that man go?”

            “He’ll be back in a minute,” I answered her again. My eyes caught sight of a stack of pictures at the corner of the table.

            Picking them up, I flipped through them. I held the past in my hand. Pictures of my father fifty years ago. So good looking, smiling in his army uniform. Another of their wedding…baby pictures of us kids.

            So long ago. How I missed those days. Engrossed in the pictures, I didn’t noticed at first she had sat down. She held the picture of my father in her hand. Gently her hand glazed over the face.

            “He’s handsome,” she said, not releasing it but gripping it tighter. She reached for the stack of pictures. I relented and studied her as she looked through them.

            Suddenly the urge surged through me that I wanted her back. I wanted her to take me in her arms as she had when I was a child. Smooth away the pain. To tell me that all would be fine.

            “Everything will be better in the morning,” she used to tell me.

            Instead, she looked up at me. “Where did that man go?”

            “He’ll be back in a minute,” I answered once more. She seemed appeased and went back to looking through the pictures.

            We sat there going through the pictures. I answered her patiently when she asked me who it was.

            “That’s Tommy. Your oldest grandson.”

            “Are you sure?” she asked.

            I nodded. She stared down at it thoughtfully. I saw her mind struggle to remember, searching for something familiar. There had been times in the past when she would break down and cry at this point. Today she went to the next picture.

            How desperately I wanted to share with her my memories. Moments in my life I cherish. Would always cherish. Wouldn’t I?

            I wanted to tell her I would never have survived high school without her. It wasn’t until my children got to be in high school that I realized why Mom stayed up and hugged me before I went to bed. Later in life she told me she just wanted to make sure I hadn’t been drinking. Nothing ever got by her. I wanted her to know I have done the same with my children.

            I chuckled to myself remembering how much she disliked Pat when I began dating him. Never did she come straight out and tell me. No, it wasn’t her way. Subtle remarks here and there. They stopped the day I married. Over the years, surprisingly she formed a special bond with my husband.

Then the vision of her when I was giving birth to Justin flashed before me. Pat was by my side when the doctor said his heart rate dropped and they needed to perform an emergency Cesarean. Being wheeled down the corridor to the OR, I heard her before I saw her. Running down the corridor like a mad woman, she stopped us for a second.

Bending down over me, she whispered, “I love you.”

I heard her as I was being wheeled away. “I couldn’t let them take her in without telling her…”

            I looked back at her. Oh, God, what happened to my mother? The woman who never forgot a date in her life, a birthday, an anniversary, dates that I didn’t even know meant anything.

            Smiling at me, she asked, “Where’s that man? Suppose he forgot to come back.”

            “He’ll be back in a minute.”

            She nodded. Her head tilted to the side when she came to the next picture, the picture of her on her wedding day. Beautiful, smiling broadly, so happy.

            Her eyes met mine. “Where did she go?”

            More than 5 million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s. My husband’s mother, Marilyn, is one of them. From a personal perceptive, Alzheimer’s is an awful disease taking from your love ones their memories. I have watched my husband’s family struggle with this fact. At first, I watched a lovely, warm woman struggle to remember simple facts. Frustration sets in. She wasn’t what she wanted to be. Then after another stage, she became more like a child. Accepting what you told her amiably, instead it was his family who endured the hurt. I have watched my father-in-law stand by his wedding vows, for better or worse, in sickness or health, faithfully. When I write a romance, I write about finding a love to last a life time. It happens…I’ve seen it.

            So come Sunday, September 25th, my family and I are walking for Marilyn. If you want to learn more about what we are doing click here.

You will find my next release, The Judas Kiss, out this coming January, 2012, with Whiskey Creek Press. A historical romance. I’m excited because it’s the first in the Tides of Charleston series. You will find my other books, Dream Walker and Patriot Secrets, at most ebook stores. Follow me on Facebook-Novel Works is my fan page where I recommend books, authors, blogs… I’m also on Twitter@jhines340.


Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Jerri,
Marilyn's story is heartbreaking, but beautiful. I thank God this tragedy has not happened to my family and will add Marilyn's family to my prayers.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Jerri,
Marilyn's story is heartbreaking, but beautiful. I thank God this tragedy has not happened to my family and will add Marilyn's family to my prayers.

Jerri Hines/Carrie James-Haynes said...


Thank you for your kind thoughts. A hard blog to write, but I did it for my husband. So hard on the kids when your own mother doesn't recognize you and you want her to so badly, especially when her family was her life.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I'm crying. Not the best way to start my Saturday but thanks anyway. We're in the process of moving back to AZ for my mom and my son and ultimately for us. Your post brought home the reasons why even though we know we'll miss MN. Thanks, Jerri.

Jannine Gallant said...

You got me, too, Jerri. What a sweet, sad story. Thanks for sharing.

Vonnie Davis said...

There are so many health issues we can control or lessen the effects of, this disease is not one of them. It's scary and affects the entire family. Calvin's mother had this and he suffered greatly when she no longer knew who he was. Thanks for sharing.

Barbara Fisher March House Books said...

I cried while reading this it brought back so many painful memories. For the last few years of his life my dad had no idea who I was – one day the ‘apple of his eye’ the next day a stranger.

Jerri Hines/Carrie James-Haynes said...

It's a awful, awful disease. I appreciate everyone's thoughts on my post. It's so hard to watch your love one not remember who you are. Hard because you're mourning the loss while they are right in front of you. Barbara, thank you for sharing your story. My heart goes out to you and everyone affected.

Alison H. said...

Jeri, I have tears in my eyes. Alzheimer's is so devastating for all family members, but it's also my greatest fear. I have only one child, a daughter, and this is the thing I so desperately don't ever want to do to her. It's even more frightening because there's nothing we can do to prevent or treat it. It's another huge reminder to make the most of every day we have with our loved ones.

Margaret Tanner said...

Lovely story Jerri,
I feel your pain and that of the family.
Alzheimer's is an eviland insidious disease.



Laura Breck said...

Jerri, what a moving story. I'm happy that you have writing as an outlet for your emotions. I worked at a long-term care facility and I loved spending time in the Alzheimers unit. For me, these beautiful men and women were sweet and childlike, happy and easy to please. We made every day special for them.

The most difficult part was seeing them with their families. The pain in the eyes of their loved ones and the confusion on the faces of the residents.

Thank you for participating in the Alzheimers walk. It's so important to raise funds for the project, but it's so empowering for you and your family as well.

Hugs, Jerri!

Jerri Hines/Carrie James-Haynes said...

Thanks for the support. For the first time in such a long time, my husband feels he can do something that can help make a difference. Sometimes its all you can do.

Penny Rader said...

Oh, Jerri. Beautiful story. Sad but beautiful. Great title. We lost my father-in-law to Alzheimer's several years ago. The disease definitely takes a heavy toll on families. May your walk be hugely successful.

Jerri Hines/Carrie James-Haynes said...

Appreciate your thoughts. I'm sorry about your father-in-law. I wish something could be done to help Alzheimer's patients. But that's why we're walking...for a cure. Hopefully, one day. Thanks again. I'll let everyone know how the walk turns out.