Peter held up handful of baby carrots. “These are cold,” he said.
“You just took them out of the fridge.”
Uh oh, the fridge was playing tricks again. Sometimes the crisper drawer turns its contents into veggie popsicles. “Here, I’ll put them in the sun on the windowsill,” I said.
Peter carried on making his lunch which never varies: beef or pastrami sandwich with splotches of Coleman’s mustard and margarine, plus a few carrots, a pile of crisps, and any fruit I sneak onto his plate. He reached into the bag of carrots. “These are cold,” he said.
“Yes, look, some are thawing.” I pointed to the cup sitting in the sun.
“What would I do without you to keep me straight?” he said, shaking his head and laughing.
“I guess you’d be eating a lot of frozen carrots,” I said.
As a learn-by-doing caregiver, I try to make my husband continue to do whatever he can. If I were to let him slide, his downward progression would be much faster I believe. Friends are amazed that he still walks the dog — “Nobby walks me twice a day,” he says — and that he mows the grass, also twice a day sometimes. And he continue to pick up sticks and comb the rugs’ fringe with whatever implement he can find.
Yesterday I caught him using an antique silver meat fork for the job. Not only was it too hefty for the aging fringe, I didn’t like the idea of using a pretty old fork on a rug. I yelped. He stormed off. I immediately felt guilty. He was back within minutes to ask if I needed any help.
“Why don’t you walk Nobby?”
“He walks me twice a day.”
“I know. He’s ready to take you right now.” The dog flopped his tail hopefully.
“Oh, wait, you could get fish while you’re out,” I said. I’d written down what I wanted from the fish ladies.
“Where are they now?” he asked.
“Across from the rugby field…”
“Right, I remember. What do you want again?
“It’s on that paper. Take it with you.”
“Don’t worry, I will. Where are…?”
“Across from the rugby field.”
“Right.” Nobby led Peter out of the house. The door slammed.
I sat down in front of the computer. I had a few minutes to write! The door slammed again. I heard Peter behind me. “Across from the rugby field,” I said without waiting to hear the question. He chuckled. The door slammed.
Keeping my cool is nearly impossible sometimes, but when I think how frustrating it must be for him to try to remember simple instructions, I simmer down.
Carrots thaw, Peter mows, and in his right hand, he holds a bunch of sticks.
The National Society of Newspaper Columnists contest winner, 2016 —
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