May 27 – A Walk to the Mailbox

by Sherry Bannan

 My mother-in-law, Nellie, had been living with us for over six months. She was 88 years old and had some type of dementia. On this particular day, Nellie was getting ready to walk down the lane to the mailbox for the third time in the last two hours.

She did this almost every day and I rather encouraged it. The mailbox was at the end of our long winding pine needle covered driveway, and I felt the walk was good exercise for her.

I watched her make her way slowly down the drive, swishing her cane at the Spanish moss that had fallen from the oaks, stopping to check out a flower, or just staring up at the sky.

Some time later, I looked down the driveway and she was nowhere in sight. I ran out of the house calling her name. Where could she have gone?

I rushed to Bill’s shop and hollered at him to help me find her. He jumped on the golf cart and decided to head down the road to see if she had gone that way. I headed for the dock, my heart pounding out a staccato tempo that hurt my ears. Mom loved to sit out on the dock with me in the early evening. I didn’t think
she would go there alone because she didn’t know how to swim and was afraid of water, but what if she had?

I hurried out on the dock looking for any sign of her, peering into the water, which was fairly clear and not too deep. I saw nothing out of the ordinary and heaved a little sigh of relief. I headed back up the hill and met Bill, who had not found her either. I got on the golf cart and we drove up the hill to go down toward the end of the road. As we rounded a corner, there sat Nellie in the neighbor’s yard. She was pulling weeds and singing her finest rendition of Sweet Georgia Brown. Life was good.

Sherry Turner Bannan is married with two adult daughters and seven grandchildren. Before retiring to Lady Lake, Fl. in 1994, Sherry and her husband operated a print shop in Coral Gables, Fl.  Sherry began writing four years ago and hopes to publish a memoir about caring for her mother-in-law, who had Alzheimer’s disease.  The working title of her book is Life with Nellie, but Really It’s All About Me. 

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5 responses to “May 27 – A Walk to the Mailbox

  1. I love this image of her weeding and singing! *smiling* . . .

  2. I can’t imagine how frightening this must have been. What a sweet and happy ending to find your mother-in-law weeding a garden and singing!

  3. Sherry, these losing mom stories “feel” just like losing a child story, same angst. Finding her gardening must have made the terror a bit less, so touching to find her connected to the earth and singing…

  4. Sweet vignette — seems apparent that the longer work will have some more harrowing moments than this one. Your working title is really working for me!

  5. I am waiting to get this book. how? I will bring it to you to have it signed. We all loved Nellie

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