On Friday morning Dr. Beemish signed me out. One of the nurses presented me with a packet of discharge papers including one on cast care. When Ruth arrived to drive me home I was dressed and waiting to make an escape.
The sight of my house brought tears to my eyes. The “Painted Lady” is ivory with shades of coral trim. I’d read about the colorful Victorian houses. Six years ago I’d decided on the color scheme. The house went from gray and drab to beautiful. People often stop to admire.
Paul hurried down the walk. “Welcome home.” He lifted me from the car.
“Put me down. I can walk.”
“Like a snail. There are a lot of stairs. Lunch break’s just an hour.”
Robespierre crouched at the top of the steps. The usually silent cat chirruped. When Paul lowered me to the window seat Robespierre jumped up and rubbed against my face and arms. His fur tickled my nose. “I missed you, too.” I turned to Paul. “Did he eat?”
“Twice a day.” Paul kissed my cheek. “Got to hustle to Sarah’s. The rug rats are mine.”
“Brave man. Thanks for the cat care.”
“No prob. Robes and I are buddies.” He paused at the door. “I’m out of here. The ladies want to plan your life.”
Maria arrived and pushed him to the stairs. “Hurry. I have the lunch ready. Mrs. Sarah need to try the dish. My madre gave me the receipt.”
Over lunch Maria, Sarah and Ruth set up a schedule of visits and meals. After the dishes were in the washer, Ruth and Maria left. Maria had Paul’s lunch and she would stay with the children while Sarah and I visited.
Maria adores children. She draws them the way a siren entices sailors, but to fun, not disaster. She’s had several miscarriages. Though she seldom talks about those losses I know she was disappointed not to have a child.
Tiredness crept over me. I used the crutches and walked to the bedroom. Sarah followed. Her dishwater blonde hair had been permed into tight curls. “Wash and wear hair,” she always said. “Bed?”
Though I hated to admit to a weakness, exhaustion threatened to turn my bones to jelly. I halted in the doorway. “What happened here?”
“Andrew. Ruth said your single request multiplied.”
“I can see that.”
When the house had been converted I sold the large antique bed my husband and I had shared. I kept a pair of sleigh beds from the guest room. One had been dismantled and an electric hospital bed stood in its place. Though I understood Andrew’s reasoning I wished there had been no exchange. My body knows every contour of my mattress. For six days I’d dreamed of a good night’s rest. The sight of the commode drew a chuckle. Ruth had found the courage I lacked.
“The boys will bring your dinner. Give them a list of what you need from the store.” Sarah supported my leg while I got into bed. “One of them will be on duty every evening until you graduate to a cane.”
“Tell Jamal I’ll bake him a chocolate cake. Larry will have a pan of fudge brownies.”
“They’ll love that.” The grin on her face said she would claim her share of the sweets, something she didn’t need. “When do your new tenants move in? I told a friend’s daughter to call but the realtor said the apartment had been rented.”
“At the end of the month.”
“What’s she like?”
“I haven’t met her. She’s Ted’s friend.”
Sarah arched an eyebrow. “A close one?”
“Don’t know. She’s divorced and has two children. Andrew said she’s lovely.”
“She must be gorgeous. He tends to see the world in shades of brown.” She put on her coat. “I’ll let you rest.”
When the door closed I drifted to sleep. After a short nap I planned to practice walking. Being dependent on others is a drag.
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