Forgetting

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“Carl?”

“No grandma. It’s me. Kate.” Grandma’s eyes are blank. I speak again. “Grandma, remember? It’s me, Katherine. Your granddaughter. I brought you something.” I hold out a box of Lindt’s 70% cocoa dark chocolate. She eyes it suspiciously. I put the box on her side table, and sit in the chair next to her bed.

“What are you doing here?” She takes my hand and presses it against her face for just a moment. She thinks I am her husband Carl. “You changed your hair!” I think it’s because of my pixie cut. When I had long hair I was her cousin, Marietta.


“I did change it. What do you think?” If she wants me to be her husband, I’ll be her husband.

She tousles my short curls. “The color. It is so rich! How do you do it? Mine is so gray.” She ends on such a sad note.

“I love your curls.” I say what Carl would never say. Never said.

She pats my hand.

My dad walks into the room. He asks if I am done. I am not sure whether he hopes I will linger long enough that he will not have to talk with her, or whether he wants to say a few words to his mother before we leave.

I slide my hand out from under grandma’s. He doesn’t like it when I play along. I think part of it is he feels like I’m enabling her dementia—but mainly I think he just doesn’t like having Carl back in the house. Carl left when Dad was twelve.

I stand up, leaving the chocolate for Dad to see. It’s his favorite too. Maybe he’ll think Grandma asked for it.

Grandma takes my hand and squeezes it, pulling me close. She whispers a secret in my ear. It’s the same secret every time. She releases me and I walk out of the room, passing my father. I’ve become the caretaker in this family, ever since she got sick. I’m the one who lets them all forget





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