I was drawn to Anna’s room this morning because I missed her in the dining room at breakfast. She was always there before me. As I clocked in at the nursing home each morning, and walked through the big open room, no one would be there but Anna. She’d wave me over, and make me twirl in front of her old eyes so she could marvel at my outfit for the day. If she absolutely loved the entire ensamble, she’d clap her hands, and reach out to kiss me. Otherwise, she’d give me a compliment on the bit of pink in my scarf, or the buckle on my belt, or tell me the blue of my blouse matched my eyes.

She wasn’t there this morning. At ninety-six, she’s been like one of those proverbial cats with nine lives. She’s fought off every cold and pneumonia that came her way, and continued to smoke through it all. “When you’re my age, honey, and you’ve lost all your real loves, your twin sister, your husband, your friends, who cares if you die from lung cancer? There’s no one left to grieve for you, and I love me a cigarette.”

I went to her room where I found her small frail body nestled among blankets and pillows. The oxygen tubing ran from her nose to a whirring machine at her bedside. Her eyes were closed and she struggled with every shallow breath.

I pulled up a chair, and took her hand. I sat for a long time rubbing my thumb across the fragile vein-lined skin of her hand. I remembered our trip to the football game where her husband’s University of Virginia Cavaliers played her Virginia Tech Hokies. She stood and cheered and laughed about how her husband was frowning down on her antics from heaven. “He never was a good loser,” she’d said.

At times Anna searched for Virginia, her twin. When reminded that Virginia had passed away some years ago, Anna would say, “Oh hell, that’s right. Once you’re connected with someone from the start, it’s hard to let go.”

As I got up to leave Anna’s bedside, I leaned over and hugged her one last time. I whispered in her ear that it was alright to let go, that Virginia and that Cavalier husband of hers were waiting for her with their arms outstretched, all she had to do was let go. I kissed her forehead and told her I loved her.

Anna completed her journey on this earth today. Godspeed my friend

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10 Responses to “Anna”

  1. Bev Says:

    I so enjoy these stories. Please note a change in my e-mail to Thanks

  2. SocietyRed Says:

    This is a beautiful tribute Margaret-Dawn. Anna sounded like a sweet lady.

  3. Curly Says:

    Beautiful tribute to your friend, Train. You truly define care-giver.

    A novel?… Waiting, then.

    Best to you & your family at Thanksgiving. (You going to make the pink stuff?)

    • train-whistle Says:

      So glad to hear from you curly! thank you for visiting. Anna was a fine lady. Hey, did Doris finish that painting? No hurry, but didn’t want you to think I forgot. We’re all going to Mama’s for Thanksgiving. I’m in charge of the rum cake and Bruce is making the pumpkin pies from the garden pumpkins. Love to you and yours! Novel or Novella, not sure which, but a memoir type thing. I’ve had some good feedback so far from a few first readers. I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

      • Curly Says:

        O yes. Doris has been working on that project off & on for awhile & has about a half-dozen versions but is never happy, so she futzes & futzes, happily. I noticed a recent version, from your foto, that I think is very good, but I don’t know where she’s going with it. But yeah, your seed of inspiration is growing.

        It was a great exercise, but I ditched the idea of attempting to string my short stories together to form a biographical novel, deciding they are better as short stories, & I’ve been working on those. Just had one accepted to a che-che anthology, coming out in 2014. Hoping that will lead to interest in my whole collection.

        I like the idea of a novella. Wish publishers were more accepting of that form.

      • train-whistle Says:

        Hey, forgot to mention. Have you checked out the new forum for writers and readers? It’s front page.

      • Curly Says:

        Yes. It’s great! Too good. I’m trying to avoid it so I can keep my nose in the work.

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