Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Remembering Wellfleet

Lisa, Bea’s health aide from Hospice & Palliative Care of Cape Cod, reminds me that last week Bea had said her spirit had left, and that this perhaps explained the sadness of the past few days. Bea has remained lethargic and silent, a totally new phenomenon.

When I enter the room during the afternoon, she is awake. I open the window to let in some warm summer air, then sit down by Bea’s bedside. I give her hand a gentle squeeze.

"Let me hold your hand for a minute," she says, wrapping her fingers around mine.

So we sit there together quietly, holding hands.

“Whew! I’m tired,” I say, glad to have an excuse to rest.

“Me, too.”

There’s a pause while Bea thinks over what I have just said. “Why are you tired?”

“I’ve been preparing the cottage for our next guests. All morning.”

Since Bea seems to take this information in, I add, “At least it’s a nice day outside. Feel that soft breeze?”

“Yes,” Bea says. There’s another pause. “What are you here for?”

“To keep you company.”

“But where do you come from?”

“What do you mean? You want to know who I am?”

“Yes.”

“I’m your daughter. I live here with you, in this house.”

Bea thinks a minute then says, “Glad to straighten that out.” A light seems to go on because she adds suddenly with solemnity, proud to have remembered, “In Wellfleet.”

Bea loves Wellfleet. She would always exclaim about how lovely the town was every time we drove past the Congregational Church. I remind her of that reaction, then say, “It’s a pretty little town, remember?”

“No.”

“You moved here with Daddy from Washington DC. You have lived here 36 years. Isn’t that amazing?”

“Yes.” Then she repeats, almost to herself, “It’s called Wellfleet.”

“A nice place to live.”

“Maybe.”

“Remember how you loved to go to Ethel Levy’s seminars at the library? No? You don’t remember? What about Elaine, the librarian? You were very fond of Elaine.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Elaine is a nice lady.”

“She is.”

Bea has closed her eyes. That is her way of saying enough. I get up and let her sleep.

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