My Aunt mumbles during our visits. She talks to the sky. I take her to lunch once a week. She calls me “Lou Lou,” a nickname from childhood even though my name is Anna. I’m one of the few she trusts. Mostly, she talks about the FBI and the four banks that have all her money. She might break into a show tune or a love song at the table. Sometimes, she falls asleep in front of her spaghetti. Her mind’s on overdrive, you see, and she’s weary. She’s weary from all the medicine and lack of sleep. She’s weary from a heart that beats wildly with fear and a mind that has let her down her entire life, but I won’t.
If she looks lost, I immediately come up with a wisecrack to make her laugh, the kind where she shuts her eyes and covers her lips like a tiny child.
“Auntie,” I might say, “Don’t fall asleep in your pasta, your lazy niece wants to snatch it for dinner.” Other times I might reach across the table and touch her hand so she knows I’m there. When her eyes sparkle, she’s having a good day, but if she looks right through me and covers her ears, I know there is a storm inside her that is rolling, roaring and it’s loud-loud.
Today, she says, “I remember the day you were born, it was like I floated with the clouds and swallowed the sun. I felt happy.”
And, so we walk on, we walk together, my Aunt and me, we walk into the parking lot, arm and arm with the cool breeze that tickles our skin to remind us we are alert and we’re alive.