The Garden of Good and Evil

My grandmother, who does not recognize me, lives off cans of vanilla Ensure and honey buns in the nursing home. She makes faces like a six-year-old at peas and corn. Bread she hides in the folds of her gown, pretended eaten.

She asks, “Strawberries out yet?” A rare glimpse of time in a haze of medication and memory loss.

“Yes. Just. You want me to bring you some?” She’ll never remember, or else she’ll wait all day, believing.

“When I get to feeling better I got to get back in the garden.” As she always says, though she’s been in this bed for three years, hip-frozen.

“It needs it,” I say, noncommittally.

“Where do you live?” she asks yet again, remembering not the grown woman feeding her, but only the longhaired teenager eternally next door.

“Right next to you.”

“Oh.” Her mouth works to turn over some part of her past, a taste of spring and good things from the garden of endless summer.

“Beth Ann and I used to work the garden. You know Beth Ann?”

I reply easily, used to the question: “I’m Beth. Remember how I toted those heavy watering cans? When I was six? I thought I was helping.”

Sweets being the bribe, I break off another piece of honey bun and she takes it, but in the working of her mouth forgets the moment and me.

#BethWalker #grandmother