Her hands flutter through the junk mail as I watch from across the table. She munches on slices of Fuji apple, and pulls out the offer.
It’s the sixth time she discovers it in the last hour. “Let’s see what they have to say…”
She reads aloud carefully:
“Mrs. M. Bertoni,” (she is pleased) GREAT NEWS, M. Bertoni, You are officially eligible for a chance to win the one million dollar prize…”
(She reads slowly, clear and deliberate,) “…or one of over two hundred and seventy-five other prizes. And if you respond by May 28, 2018, you will also be eligible for the $2,500.00 early bird prize!”
She folds it carefully, replacing it in the envelope. “I’ll read this later, when my brains are right.”
A few minutes go by. She pulls it out again, experiencing it for the first time (again). “Let’s see what they have to say… Mrs. M Bertoni,” (so pleased)…
Before she got sick, whenever I’d pick her up for lunch, I always did my best to intercept this crap.
I was such a good daughter.
But now, spending whole days with her, I can feel this moment more clearly. I can feel this piece of mail that came to her, that was addressed specifically to her when the rest of the world had forgotten… I can feel the good news of it. The brief moment of respite from the crushing pain, the boredom, the indignities and the helplessness of extreme old age.
It’s not crap. It’s not junk at all. It’s a moment of bright possibility struggling for oxygen in the dark sea of her depression.
It’s somebody telling her she won.
I am a better daughter now. I let her have these cruel, fleeting victories. But her bitterness reaches up anyway, out of nowhere, and sinks its teeth into the moment.
“Ah SHIT!” she hollers to no one at the top of her voice.
The good news is gone. And the shriveling day leaves its scars on everyone in the hours that are left.