The sun had just announced the start of the day when a dark cloud popped up out of the blue bringing with it a downpour of cooling rain drops. Ivy Downing sighed from the doorway of her house.
It was a Monday … what else should she expect? Everything that could go proverbially wrong had as soon as her alarm buzzed two hours ago. Her hot water decided not to work in the middle of her shower. She was wide awake now for sure after the freezing cold temperatures splattered over her body. Her bagel got stuck in the toaster causing it to be charbroiled. The dog got sick all over her favorite shoes … and not the throw up kind of sick … yeah from the other end.
And now she was 15 minutes late to go sit with her mom while her dad went grocery shopping. When she called him on the cell, her dad was like, it was fine, no rush. But Ivy still felt bad … he rarely got to go out and do stuff by himself … grocery shopping had become a code word for ‘me time.’
Since early 2000, Charles Downing, Ivy’s dad, had been the sole caregiver for her mom who had suffered brain injuries as a result of a bad vehicle accident. Doctors told them that she would have an 85 percent higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s as she got older.
They were right, except she had been diagnosed with dementia. For the first several years, she was OK, and as they were told it would, with age, the conditions of the disease progressed. Lydia Downing had her moments. Her issues revolved around memory – her long term memory seemed better than her short term.
As things progressed, her dad and Ivy talked about her helping out some and being available when they needed her as they got older. Ivy was fine with it. She was not married, no children and she worked from home as a travel writer. Last year, the publishing company she worked for gave Ivy a promotion, and a column … so she could set her own schedule and trips.
So, it was easier for her to be the one to be available. Her brother and sister had careers and families, and lived in different states.
Ivy now lived in a ‘mother-in-law’s’ cottage on her parents’ property. So, she was literally a hop, skip and jump from her parents’ backyard and swimming pool.
Yet today, as ‘leftovers’ of Tropical Storm Elsa flew through, that hop, skip and a jump looked like it was going to be a splash, a swim or maybe, she was going to need a boat.
Sighing, she pulled up the hood of her rain jacket over her head, and prepared to make a run for it, shutting the door to her house behind her. That is when she heard it “Beep Beep.”
Startled, Ivy jumped. Sitting in a covered ATV beside her walkway was her best friend, Will Stiles. He had on a rain coat and a baseball cap, “Need a ride?”
Ivy ran to the other side, and got in. “Where did you come from?”
“I was talking to your dad and he said you were on your way up, and then the bottom fell out.” Will turned the vehicle around in the small paved driveway that led to Ivy’s house from the garage. It was small enough for a golf cart or an ATV. She normally left her car in the three car garage at her parents’ house, and drove her ATV back and forth … but it was in the shop.
“Phew … They weren’t kidding about the rain coming from Elsa were they?” Ivy said squinting looking at the rain.
Will nodded, “Supposed to be like this all day. When do you get your cart back?” He asked.
“Tomorrow. They are going to deliver it. “ She said.
Will said, “Talked to your mom.”
Ivy sighed. “How was she today?”
“Happy … She is in the storytelling mood though … I think she told me the story about your dad and her meeting at the basketball game three times in about 10 minutes.” Will said as he pulled around the yard to the main driveway.
Ivy looked down at her feet. “Repeating like that is a big part of the disease.”
“Yup, and we just act like we heard the story for the first time each time … makes no difference … whatever makes them happy. Here you go, mam. Want me to come back and get you?” Will asked pulling up to the garage.
Ivy thought for a moment, “You don’t have anything to do?”
“Off today. Two hours?” He asked.
She nodded as she got it, and waved. “Thanks.”
Ivy ran inside the garage and headed inside. “Hey Dad, are you sure you want to get it out in this mess?” She hollered as she hung up her rain jacket, and wiped her feet.
Charles walked in, “I thought about it. I think I am going to do delivery.” His eyes were wide. Charles leaned in closer to her, “Do you mind keeping her occupied for a while?”
Ivy smiled, “I got you. Ma, Ma, Ma!” She called walking inside.
Lydia Downing was sitting at the table drinking a cup of coffee, and nibbling on a blueberry muffin. She turned around, and smiled. “Well, hello, where have you been?”
Ivy walked over and hugged her mom, “Hello. I was at home.”
“Will was here … you just missed him … such a nice boy … you should date him.” Lydia said as Ivy sat down next to her, and Charles laughed. He walked over to the coffee pot. “It is decaf, Ivy, want some?” Charles pointed.
She nodded. “Yes, please. Now, Mom, you know Will and I are just friends … I know too much about him and he knows too much about me.” Ivy winked as she nibbled on a blueberry.
Her mom’s attention span was drawn to the television. It was a talk show, and Will Smith, the actor was on. “Hey, he looks like our Will.” Lydia said.
Ivy took her coffee from her dad as he slipped to his study to do the online ordering. “Yeah?”
“Except our Will isn’t black like this Will. Will was just here by the way … he is such a good boy … you should marry him, you know.” Lydia took a sip of her coffee.
Ivy drank her coffee, and looked at her mom. “Mom … you …” She stopped herself. “He is a good guy. You are right …”
Lydia smiled. There was not a point to correct Lydia or tell her she had already said that. What did it hurt for Lydia to repeat herself? Ivy sighed, and put her cup down.
Silence passed between them. Ivy thought of her mom, and all that her dad did for her. Some days, Lydia didn’t even know her dad, and a lot of days, she didn’t know Ivy. Lydia’s stories were mostly imagined, and her actions were repetitive too.
Ivy watched as coffee dripped on the table, and fought the urge to wipe it for her mom. One thing that her dad wanted them to do was always allow Lydia to have dignity and feel useful even in her condition.
Lydia saw the spill, and giggled. “Oops. I missed my mouth.” She took a napkin and wiped it up. Lydia looked at Ivy. “You look like my daughter, Ivy … she has curly hair too, and that dimple.”
Ivy swallowed. “I bet she is a good girl.” In her mind, Ivy thought, “It is not hard … it is just different.”
Silence passed again between them. “Ivy, Will stopped by … you know, you missed out on marrying him … he is such a good boy.” Lydia put her coffee mug down.
“You are right, Momma, I did.” Ivy sighed.
Lydia started watching the television show again, and laughed at something the actor said. “He is funny … he reminds me of Will … you know he stopped by here.”
Ivy watched her mom. “No, I didn’t, Momma.”
Sometimes, repeating one’s self isn’t so bad.