Moonbeams illuminate my mother in an otherworldly light. Bea is still very much of this world, however, lone contestant on an empty stage, conscientious contender for the Guinness World Record of Non-Stop Talk who, despite a sleeping pill, has not even paused for a nap. At least the relentless chatter is more serene now than yesterday when I sat down by her bedside to record her latest adventure.
Bea looks up at me with desperation in her eyes …
BEA: “You’ve got to help me get them in the car! It’s a play they’re putting on. There’s a party afterwards. We have to get the people into the car.”
ME: “What kind of car?”
BEA: “I think it’s a Buick. Maybe you want to get in the box.”
ME: “You mean the rumble-seat? I’ve never ridden in one before. What’s the name of the play?”
BEA: “The Bluebells… something. It doesn’t matter what the name of it is.”
ME: “Is Helen here?”
BEA: “No, she broke down.”
ME: “How about Dorothy?”
BEA: “She’s in charge. Now, I think we will have to leave the flowers here. There’s nothing else we can do except get this load of people down the hill and that worries me. We have to get the horse –“
ME: “There’s a horse?! Who brought a horse?”
BEA: “The other family. This is too much for me. Will you take over?”
BEA: “Thank you, darling. Okay. Everybody in the car. I have to get some clothes on. Just push the people into the car. Push them into the bottom of the canoe. Push them into the front of the canoe, anywhere you can push them. What happened to the baby?
ME: Canoe? What baby?
BEA: The host’s baby. We have to get these people to their homes. However, there’s this wise child, listening very carefully.”
Bea extends a wobbly finger towards the ceiling.
BEA: “Pile them in." (TO ME) "You can be my sister. Okay. Come on, girls. Leave the flowers. All right, Helen. Where’s Dorothy?
ME: “What are you going to wear?”
BEA: “A yellow dress from my collection.”
BEA: “Yes, yellow. It’s very nice. I wore it many times. It’s my best dress. Schiaparelli. I got it in Paris. The main thing is we’re going to be very careful driving the car and especially going down the hill. How old is the child? Two or three. Are you three, dear? Yes. I can give you this blanket as that will keep you warm. Take the blanket. You’re a joy, Helen. Take this and put it around as many people as you can.”
ME: “Where are we going?”
BEA: “As far as the airport, at the town next to us.”
ME: “The theatre is at the airport?
BEA: “As soon as we get to it we’ll know. You’ll see the signs, ‘Buy Cheap Underwear.’ Now turn around and get going. I’m sure you’ll understand why this has been difficult. She has the lead in the play. Use the blue and white blanket. It’s ours. I want to bring it home. You are remarkable.”
ME: “How’s that?”
BEA: “To be so calm. Now, please drive slowly. I have some candies in the car in case anyone wants some. You know where the airport is?”
BEA: “Well, start now.”
ME: “What about the party?”
BEA: “We’re going to have to cancel the party. Now, be a good girl. Just be quiet unless you have something to say. Take them to the airport. Go ahead. I’ll stay here. I’ll be grateful to you for the rest of my life ...”