Lost in a Strange Land

The first troublesome sign was finding Mrs. Kravitz in the backyard.  My backyard.  She gingerly held a bouquet of freshly snipped flowers from her garden in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other.  I was getting ready to hang wash and saw her just standing there looking around.  After I put down the basket, I approached her and said her name.  She didn’t reply but did turn around to look at me.  She seemed relieved to see me and called me Molly.  I know that Mrs. Kravitz has a daughter named Molly who lives across the state, so I corrected her and told her my name.  She seemed a little perturbed that maybe I was playing a game with her or trying to trick her, so I asked her what she was doing in the yard and she told me she was looking for Baby Cecil’s grave.  I had no idea what she was talking about but now sensed something was wrong.  I gently asked Mrs. Kravitz to join me inside for a cup of coffee and we walked  toward my back door.  As the coffee perked, Mrs. Kravitz watched out the side window blankly.  I tried to make small talk and pulled out the creamer and sugar bowl.  I have had coffee with my neighbor many times and I know that she likes to chat.  Or maybe gossip would be a better name for it.  I asked her about the comings and goings on the block, but she told me that she didn’t have anything to report.  This was bad.  We sat quietly sipping our coffee when Stevie Junior and Jack Frost bounded through the back door.  I tried to quiet them but they were laughing about some game they had been playing.  The clamor must have been enough to bring Mrs. Kravitz back to herself and she scolded me a little for trying to quiet them using my name.  Her eyes seemed brighter now and her face lit up as she started to tell me what she had seen Zettie Louise trying to teach Junior last week.  It was as if she had been someplace else far away for that half hour.

After she finished her coffee, Mrs. Kravitz got up to leave and I placed my hand on her arm.  I asked her if I could call her daughter Molly for some parenting advice.  I knew Molly had two boys about Junior’s age.  She rattled off the phone number and reminded me that it was long distance and not to talk too long.

I told Mrs. Kravitz that I wanted to stop by later and check on her and she seemed a little surprised.  We usually checked on her when the weather was bad or she needed help with a bigger chore.  I picked up the flowers and scissors and walked Mrs. Kravitz back to her home.  She looked at the flowers a little funny but accepted them all the same.

Later that day, I called Molly.  Strangely, she noticed something different about her mother lately also.  There were times her mother had missed their arranged phone calls or she went blank on something that happened or couldn’t remember a name properly.  Molly made plans to visit on the weekend and I assured her that I would check on Mrs. Kravitz daily.  The next few days, I stopped by at different times to check on Mrs. Kravitz and took her grocery shopping at Martel’s one afternoon.  She seemed fine and very appreciative.  At the end of the week, Mrs. Kravitz asked me why I had been so attentive recently.  I swallowed hard and told her about finding her a little lost in the back yard.  She was quiet for a moment.  A small tear slid out of the side of one eye.  I reached across and held her hand.  Mrs. Kravitz confided in me that she had also found herself lost in the house recently and didn’t understand it.  She told me about Molly wanting to come and asked if I told Molly.  I admitted that I had but she didn’t seem upset with me.  We sat together for awhile quietly.  We both knew that change was coming for her.  I only hoped that I could live as long as she did with her curiosity.





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