When I’m standing in front of the icebox I don’t know whether I came to put something in it or take something out. At the mailbox, I can’t remember if I wanted to put a letter in or collect the mail. These days I don’t think very well. It confuses me, all this forgetting.
Mother reads the yellowed letter in a singsong voice, the one she uses when she does not comprehend the words. I wonder how she can recognize the letters without attaching meaning.
This morning, she had been surprised to find her grandmother’s letter at the bottom of her drawer. “How did THAT get in there?” she said, digging deeper into the pile of costume jewelry and lace handkerchiefs, as if the answer could be found there.
I help her retrace events:
When your mother died…
You went through her things, don’t cry, it was long ago…
How do YOU know? Were you there? Do you know us?
You couldn’t bear to throw anything that smelled like her away, so you brought it all home.
Nobody told me this. How was I supposed to know?
And then she picked up the pages of her grandmother’s letter, carried them carefully to the refrigerator, tucked them in the freezer and quietly closed the door.