Rivers of fabric between my fingers.
A lovely shade of blue.
Sapphire, cerulean— or is it closer to teal?
It doesn’t really matter.
So soft; I sigh— Staring into space— into time.
A floor length gown, swirls about the room.
His arm about my waist.
The scent of Old Spice lingers between us.
His smile; that mysterious smile.
Release— it ripples back into the box.
The moment fades.
Digging deeper: beneath the satiny blue.
Wool— no, it’s tweed.
For a jacket perhaps, a stylish high waisted jacket.
A matching skirt. Perfect for my honeymoon suit.
“Mother,” I turn excitedly to find— not my mother.
It’s a young woman sitting beside me.
“Oh—” I’m covered in confusion. A saleswomen?
Glancing about I look for mother, but wait—
This is not a store. Where am I?
“Mother,” I call, rising to my feet as panic grows steadily within me.
A hand is placed over mine. A gentle arm around my shoulder.
Her voice is soothing. She guides me to my chair.
She is kind, and my fears are calmed.
I sit quietly for a moment, or maybe three.
My thoughts, like pearls on a broken string.
Where am I? What am I doing?
Gazing down— boxes. I look up— a smiling face.
Oh, yes. I am sorting.
My granddaughter, Becca, is here to help.
A lifetime of things— memories.
She is speaking. Do I want to take a break?
No, I’m okay I tell her.
A small, chipped pitcher is in my hands.
White porcelain. A rose pattern.
I don’t remember where it came from, but I always loved it.
The chip is small. Not enough to ruin it, at least not for me.
Red roses, with variegated leaves—
Such fine attention to detail.
I trace the lines of roses.
How do they make it look so real?
Reality begins to blur.
Flowers, yes, I look at the flowers in my hands.
Roses, and trailing ivy from grandmother’s garden.
Music, coming from a distance. It is time to go.
Papa takes my arm, leading me out of the bride's room.
Down the hall, we enter the chapel.
My niece spreads flower petals— Rose petals.
Looking up, I smile. His eyes. Pools of cobalt blue.
Like the lake at sunset, just as the light is leaving the horizon.
I could get lost in those eyes.
The pitcher is taken from me. I am back.
Did I really leave? I feel unsure.
We discover a smaller box.
I open the lid. Seashells! So pretty.
I take them out, one at a time. I tell Becca where we got them.
I hold one to my ear. They say you can hear the ocean.
The waves make a rhythmic cadence. We walk on the beach.
Holding hands. Those deep blue eyes, looking into mine.
Handing me a small shell; he calls it a periwinkle.
He tells me he loves me.
The shell is perfect, like our love.
I want to organize the shells.
My hands are shaking. Why are they shaking?
Wrinkled hands are placing my shells on the tray.
Whose hands are those? Where are my hands?
Frustration rising— tension.
Why won’t people leave me alone?
Let me do things for myself.
I try to push the old person’s hands away.
A shell falls. It hits the floor with finality.
I stop. Tears slide slowly down my cheeks.
A voice tells me it’s alright, but it isn’t.
I slump in my chair. A gentle hand is on my arm.
Is it time for tea so soon? She says it is.
The kettle is whistling. A calming sound.
Becca pours the water into each cup.
Minutes tick by as the tea steeps.
She chose the teacups from the living room cabinet.
We haven’t used those for a while.
She hands me my cup. Chamomile tea; very soothing.
What is that— What is she asking me?
Some pictures she found in an old album.
Yes, it’s her mother when she was young—
And my mother when I was young.
She is right, they do look alike.
She hands me a plate. Cinnamon coffee cake.
Great Grandmother’s recipe she says.
She found it in my card file.
I take a bite. So delicious.
Three young voices are shouting, “we made breakfast for you!”
Tumbling onto our bed, trays in hand—
I grab for it as the plates begin to slide, settling it just in time.
Fortunately they carried the juice glasses in by hand.
The eggs are cold, Jenny informs us.
It took so long for the coffee cake to finish baking.
I tell her it is delicious. It was so thoughtful of them.
They’re smiles more than make up for the less than perfect eggs.
A penny for your thoughts, Becca says as she cleans off the table.
My thoughts— they are worth a good deal more than that I think.
I am ready to go back to our task.
Becca isn’t sure. Maybe it can wait, she says.
Wait for what I wonder?
I return to the tray of shells.
The broken shell is gone.
Becca must have swept it up while I was washing before tea.
I sit down, gently replace the shells in their box, setting it aside.
—I feel the waves going out with the tide.
Reaching into the box— A cravat. Burgundy silk.
Closing my eyes, I hold it to my cheek.
Jenny, arriving on her father’s arm.
What a beauty she is. I hear music.
He places her hand in her future husband’s.
Turning, he smiles. His beautiful eyes.
The music ebbs, drifting away.
I reach for him. He is gone.
“Grandma,” Becca’s voice feels far away. “are you okay?”
Am I okay? Oh yes— I mean, no—
I’m not sure. What are we doing?
Becca takes me into the sunny living room.
She helps me sit in the plush armchair.
"We will continue another time," she says.
I smile, another time will be fine.
She raises my feet with the recliner.
Covers me with a light blanket.
"Time to rest," she says.
Yes, time to rest.
I hold the cravat close to my heart.
“I love you,” I whisper.
She kisses my cheek.
“I love you, Grandma.”