The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Stella

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We were in a hurry to get home when we saw her with the broom walking down the middle of the road. The bristles were curling as she slowly swept. The little mottled dog ran ahead furiously sniffing the ground searching for rodents. We passed slowly looking over at the woman with her halo of white hair. It was Stella. We had seen her son a year or more ago, and he said she had Alzheimer’s.

We were in a hurry, but I wondered if she really had Alzheimer’s and did anyone know she was out here. We pulled over, and I got out.

She laughed as I approached and said, “You’re someone I should know.”

“I’m Marge Norton, your neighbor. Are you out for a walk?”

“Yes, I walk everyday. I bring my broom in case anyone comes along.”

She said Stan was sleeping when she left the house. I suggested I walk with her back to her house so I could say hello to him. She and I and the dog turned and headed back to her house while my husband turned around and drove ahead. It seemed to take forever with her slow baby steps. I wanted to grab her arm and pull her along. I knew time had no meaning for her now.

“I have to fix supper when we get back. Everyone comes to my house on the weekends because I cook. Nobody cooks anymore. I cook everyday.”

We heard the voices on the television when we entered. She walked ahead to make sure Stan was dressed.

He yelled, “Come in.”

He did not even ask where she had been or seem worried as if the bad penny always turns up. He said he had alarms on the doors. One night at 2 AM strangers walked in his house with her. They had found her down the road with a flashlight and a lunch box. The doctor asked him if it was time for a home yet. Stan said, “Not yet. I can’t do it to her yet.”

He said, “I think Dr. ….”

I finished, “Kevorkian. Yes.”

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