Lorna shuffles along, curved shoulders hunched slightly forward, bald spot at the back of her head.
Every morning she combs and teases the brittle numbered follicles that remain, in a last ditch effort to hide the circle of shame atop her head.
Still fastidiously neat, being old school, she swipes lipstick across her thinning lips and squirts a dash of her favorite scent before starting the day.
She is imploding. There is proof of this in the once swan like neck that has sunk into her torso. She has also gotten shorter and her waistline and bust line have disappeared. Her body has taken on the shape of a squircle.
Pfffff! she sniffs at her reflection in the hall mirror as she lumbers on by. Not much to look at now are you?
She nearly trips over a pair of strappy heels belonging to her fourth and youngest daughter.
Celia's one major defect being she was convinced that where she dropped things was actually where they belonged. In this case, the logical choice of location was apparently the middle of the hallway.
With an inelegant grunt Lorna bends down and with one arm steadying herself on the armoire door picks up the delicate sculptural sandals. She admires the intricate interwoven straps and the sexy clasp.
These were the type of shoes that looked just as sensual off as they did on.
Sandals to be worn with fire engine red toe nails. Nails on feet that clicked through life decidedly and purposefully on heels supporting a straight and proud body through crowds, through mischief, through heartbreak.
The irreverence that stems from assured youthfulness.
Letting out a long slow sigh Lorna arrives at the end of the hall and neatly sets her daughters sandals in the available spot next to her hideous orthopedic shoes in the shoe closet.
Lorna loves having her kids visit. On this occasion her second and fourth are here for four days in between vacation destinations. She hears them talking and laughing as she makes her way upstairs to bed at night. The older she gets the less she sleeps. But when the kids are home she doesn't need her sleeping pills.
All her children are a source of pride for Lorna, but when they are home she feels so much older, obsolete even, than when she is alone. Maybe it is the obvious contrast between young firm skin and sagging wrinkled skin or the speed and decibel level at which they moved, talked and laughed.
Her girls had a confident and relaxed notion that all would be okay. This fascinated Lorna who had never been sure of anything during her young life marked by war, poverty and immigration.
For Lorna, change had been forced. What you didn't want to happen happened so you had no choice but to deal with it. Whereas nowadays, change was a friend, an ally even, against boredom from the status quo and her young girls controlled what they wanted changed and when.
She envied their confidence and hoped they would hang on to it and their happy go lucky dispositions for the hard times to come, because although life on certain levels was better now than when Lorna was growing up, she knew for a fact that everyone would experience their share of hard times in one shape or form sooner or later.
As she makes her way back towards the kitchen, the phone rings. Her oldest and dearest friend, Marin, was coming by to see the girls and she was bringing a pie and ice cream for afters.
Lorna would sit with Marin sometimes sewing, sometimes knitting, sometimes just drinking tea and enjoying a homemade dessert but always talking, sharing, caring. From diapers to pigtails to breasts to motherhood to old age they had made their way together, more like sisters than friends.
Lorna adored Marin. Now that they were both widowed they had further deepened their bond and it was unthinkable to imagine one leaving before the other. The quiet understanding, firm attachment to doing the right thing, loyalty and a lifetime of memories shared brought a fullness to their lives.
What could have been a desolate and futile last chapter of a life forgotten felt more like a satisfying albeit bittersweet ending flush with accomplishments, trials, joys, relationships earned, cultivated and shared.
A life made worthy by their actions, carried on through their children and, for now, kept alive by their shared memories. A life with a satisfying ending.