Monday, May 08, 2006

An Invitation to Dinner

I am awakened from a deep sleep by voices downstairs. No light shows yet at the window. I check the clock. It's 4 am. I try to ignore the sounds coming from Bea’s bedroom, but already my mother’s instinct has kicked in. Something is bothering Bea. I have to find out what. Down the staircase I plod.

“There you are,” she says triumphantly as soon as I open the door. “I’m hungry.”

This from someone who had refused most of her dinner, consuming in total a few bites of salmon, one whole banana and a bowl of ice cream.

“It’s not time to eat,” I complain. “It’s the middle of the night.”

“I’m hungry,” she repeats with apparent disregard for my tone, which is not as civil as I would wish it to be.

I go into the kitchen and fetch a biscotti, something she can eat by herself. In the morning, there will be chocolate all over her hands and face, nite-gown and sheets, but at least there’s a chance I can get back to sleep.

“Yum, yum,” she says, accepting my offering with gratitude.

“When you finish that, go to sleep,” I tell her and firmly close the door.

The sounds coming from her room continue but softer now.

I drift off around 5, sleeping until 7. The first thing I do after a cup of coffee is go in to see Bea.

“Would you care to join us for dinner?” she asks in a cheery voice.

Did she sleep at all? Is she still in a dream? Perhaps she is referring to dinner the night before?

I seek clarification: “Who else will be there?”

“Nobody but us. We’ll pay.”

My father used to take her out to dinner every week. Bea loved inviting guests along. At least she is enjoying pleasant memories.

“Yes, thank you,” I say. “I would love to join you for dinner.”

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