There was an Old Woman Named Sarah

'This Side of Life'

There was an old woman named Sarah

I remember Sarah.

I find it hard to stay in the now with my writing. Now is weaving down the hall like a drunk—plunking away at the keyboard with two fingers.

But I remember Sarah. She was my best friend’s mother. At 84, and living in assisted living, she was a bright spot in my life. My friend offered to pay me for my interactions with her, but I declined. My favorite activity with her was to traipse around town—her in a wheelchair—getting lost amongst the back streets. When she resided in Salem, we trekked the streets there.

Our goal for each travel in Salem was ice cream. Chocolate ice cream had been forbidden by staff in the home because they felt it contributed to her incontinence. They were probably right—they were in the know—but I saw in front of me an old woman being stripped of the elements of…

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