The bus rumbled to a halt, the telltale wheezing whine that symbolizes to all public transit users the arrival of their ride.
“Isn’t this our stop, dear?” she asks gently, with a slight tremble in her voice, an unfortunate side effect of age.
“No Grandma, there’s still a ways to go,” you don’t mention that you only boarded the bus at the last stop.
“Tomatoes,” she announces with satisfaction, “that’s what I forgot to put on the grocery list. Quick Samantha! Put it on the list before we forget again!”
Blinking and swallowing hard, you stare out the window and reply, “I don’t have the list with me, I’ll put it on when I get home.”
She looks puzzled. “But aren’t we going to the store now?” Normally, at this point, you get impatient and snap back a response… but you just don’t have it in you today.
“We’re not going to the store, Grandma.”
“Oh.” She won’t ask you where you are going, she’s too embarrassed that she forgot. She will continue to ride the bus until you get up to leave and then she will follow you down the street, all the while not knowing where your destination lies. You know this, you also know that you should casually mention where you are going. It would be cruel not to. But you don’t, you just continue looking out the window.
As the bus chugs by, block by block, you look at all the happy, young people. Yo see the hotdog stand, can almost smell the aroma of ketchup and mustard above the moldy stench of the bus. You look, and you wonder. Why me? And then you feel guilty, because you are not the one who is old.
“Oh dear,” Grandma mutters under her breath, just loud enough for you to hear, “my stockings don’t match.”
“Don’t worry Grams, you have plenty of socks in your suitcase,” you say without thinking, forgetting that she had forgotten.
Surprised, she jerks her head down to her feet, where her suitcase sits, steady and solid. “Yes, that’s right,” she murmurs. Her face becomes downfallen and you can see the tears in her eyes. “That’s right,” she repeats softly.m