Four Dollars Short and an Ugly Bracelet

Cold wind whipped against my face as I fought back tears of rage and frustration. Besides the rustling of branches devoid of leaves in the February cold, the only other sound was the gentle tinkling of my dog’s licenses in charms clinking together as she padded along ahead of me leading the way. I could tell she was happy for the adventure by her gait, her fluffy tail raised like a flag. I stumbled along behind her wrapped in my faux fur coat and wrapped in a pink fluffy “magic” scarf. Nothing felt magical about this moment, just cold and dead like my heart.
My cheeks hurt from exposure to the cold and I could feel my lips drying out even though they were covered with chapstick. The tears brimming on my lashes offered relief to my dry eyes. Deep in thought, I walked but barely noticed my surroundings.
I was emotionally exhausted, even though nothing extreme happened. It was a succession of little events that I couldn’t seem to handle. First, I had to take my glasses to LensCrafters a third time because they had not been adjusted to fit my fact correctly. Undaunted, I then stopped at HOT TOPIC, one of my favorite stores to peruse their merchandise. I bought an orange pin that read, “Vote for my monkey” and put it on my purse, not noticing the cashier failed to give me my change until an hour later. An hour too late to reclaim my four dollars.
An elderly driver had somehow crashed into one of those vegetation islands found in the parking lot of the shopping center I stopped at to pick up a few items for my grandparents. The supermarket didn’t have what I needed, so I walked to Walmart and purchased what I needed, a headache due to lack of caffeine pound in my skull, making me crazy.

Finally I made it to my grandparents’ assisted living facility, only to be met with the sickening insanity of getting older. Leery wrinkled old people sitting around waiting to die greeted me with eerie smiles or lackadaisical stares.

My grandmother, suffering from the beginning effects of Alzheimer’s was in a jolly mood. She shyly, yet proudly showed me a beaded bracelet another resident had given her. It was nothing more than black elastic with alternating sparkly purple and clear beads. It was ugly. It reminded me of a little child proud of a trinket she had just earned, and my heart burned. My grandmother would never have worn such a pathetic excuse for jewelry, much less been proud of it ever before.

I showed her my new cell phone with digital picture and video capabilities. She thought it was a camera, and marveled at the picture of my dog I had taken the day she was groomed. The minute long video of my dog jumping onto my lap made her chuckle, but she had no clue it was a phone. I wished she could understand the marvels of technology…or that her new bracelet was ugly.

My grandfather, who seems slightly more “with it”, despite his failing memory donned me with two oranges and a banana. He was thrilled by my presence and my offerings of soda and tissues. Soda and tissues that somehow connected them to the outside world, which were now dulled by the surreality of this place. This land where adults sopping with wisdom function less and less like sages, and more and more like toddlers. It disgusted me and I wanted to run as far away as I could

I kept thinking of that beaded bracelet as I drove home. I wanted to rip it off my grandmother’s wrist and scream, “No! It’s ugly! This isn’t you! Wake up, wake up!” I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her, but all I can remember is my grandmother sitting there snapping that bracelet on her wrist, much less a woman, but a little girl guarding her treasure. What caused my heart to ache more than anything was that she had lost more than four dollars, and what she lost could never be recovered.

I was jolted by to reality and out of my thoughts by my dog’s insistence on returning to the apartment. As much as I hated the cold, I liked it, too. I needed it because the harsh wind and the gray skies were my only friends in my misery.

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