My First Purse
I had just finished a chapter when Hani walked in the room. Hani was my favorite LPN. She always greeted us with a smile, seemed happy to chat with me, and she had a lyrical south African accent that I loved.
“How are you doing today?” Hani boomed at Mom. One of my many annoyances was that every person who worked here raised their voice with every interaction, even though there was nothing wrong with Mom’s hearing. Occupational habit, I imagine. Mom gazed at her and smiled, but didn’t answer. She rarely talked anymore.
“Hani, how was your time off last week?” I asked.
I worked hard to get to know the staff. Mom had been at the nursing home for ten years already. I think part of me hoped that if they thought of me as a nice person — maybe even a friend — they might be extra kind to her.
I had been reading aloud to Mom a few afternoons a week for a while now, even though she slept through most of it these days. The idea came to me when someone mentioned The Little House on the Prairie books and I remembered Mom reading them to me when I was little, mother and daughter, snuggled up on my bed.
“Oh fine,” Hani answered. “We didn’t go anywhere, but my mom came to spend time with the kids. We hung out at the pool a lot.”
“Oh, that sounds nice. It’s been so hot.” I said.
Hani bustled with her medical cart, unwrapped a new test strip, and pricked Mom’s finger. She deftly inserted the strip into the meter and guided Mom’s hands to hold the piece of gauze in place.
My memories of childhood are already so fuzzy. I had completely forgotten about the Little House books and it was such a joy to reread them all with her. Last month, an aunt surprised me with a box of old toys — things that my family had passed on to hers so her own kids could enjoy them. Among the dolls and the Weebles House was a plastic pink zippered pencil case. It had Donald Duck on it, with a little pocket for lunch money. I remember calling it my purse, and secreting away my favorite markers and a necklace from my godmother. I jealously guarded it against prying eyes.
I brought the box to the nursing home to show Mom. I was always looking for different conversation topics. It was difficult…