Tea for Two
By Cathy Collar
“I’m so glad you came by. I was so needing a visitor today, I have been feeling a little lonely and the sight of your smiling face, well let’s just say you made my day! I’ll put on a pot of tea. It’ll just take a minute. Have a seat and I’ll be right back.”
Dorothy busied herself in the small kitchen of her apartment. She hummed softly as she filled the pot and placed it on the gas burner.
“There.” She said as she bustled into the small living room. “It’ll just take a minute. Oh! I see you have been shopping today. Did you find any bargains? I would love to be able to go shopping, but I can’t you know. The Doctor says my kidneys are failing and trips downtown aren’t allowed. Please tell me all about it! Have they put out the springtime clothes? I do need to get a new dress for church. I fear the other women are getting tired of seeing me in the same old thing every Sunday.” She smiled. “I’m just kidding of course. They are all very nice and friendly.”
The teapot whistled it’s happy tune from the cozy kitchen.
“It’s ready! No, I don’t need your help honey. You just sit there and I’ll be right back. I do believe I have some cookies in here that I snuck out of the cafeteria. Yes! Here they are. I hope you like oatmeal raisin. They are my favorite, even though these are not near as good as my homemade recipe. I don’t cook much anymore.”
Dorothy carried the ornate silver tray from the kitchen and placed it on the dainty coffee table.
“Do you take sugar or cream?” Oh yes, I remember you like yours just plain, like your coffee. Did you get to go to the country house this winter? It was always my favorite place. The air was so fresh and clean. I loved taking midnight strolls in the garden and gazing at the millions of dazzling stars above my head. I haven’t seen the stars in so long. The bright lights of the city drown them out.”
Dorothy sighed. She placed her china cup down on the silver tray and rose from her seat.
“I’m getting worse, you know. I can’t remember things like I use to. I feel like my life is wasting away here. The help are all very nice and they take good care of me. My clothes are always cleaned and pressed. My meals are prepared daily and a nice nurse comes by to check on me if I haven’t been to the main room. I have friends, but they are all slowly leaving and going to their heavenly home. I feel so lost and lonely sometimes.”
Lou Anne placed her teacup on the tray and walked over to her mother’s sister.
Tears gathered in her eyes, but she would not let them fall. She placed her arms around her aunt and gave her a small hug.
“I think it is way past time for you to leave this place and come live with your family.” She said.
Dorothy took a step back, a look of disbelief on her frail face.
“I can’t leave.” She said. “The doctor said I can’t take a trip down town, more or less one five hundred miles away!”
“When did you last see your doctor?” asked Lou Anne.
“I can’t remember.”
“Okay, how about this? We’ll go see your doctor tomorrow. If he says it is okay, will you come and live with us? We don’t want you to be alone. My girls and I will take care of you and you will never have to go into a nursing home. That is why you called me isn’t it? You think that you are headed there. We don’t want to see that happen. You belong with your family.”
“I don’t know what to say. I have been here for so long, but yes, my health is getting worse and I know that soon that is where I will be. I just don’t know.” She paused, sat down on the Queen Anne sofa and held her head up high.
“Yes.” She finally said. “If I wait, they will say I am out of my mind, take my money and things and move me to the north end. No one comes back from there.”
“We will move your things with you. You can keep what you want and put it in your room and we will put the rest safely in storage. No one will steal it.”
Dorothy lay in the backseat of the suburban cuddled under a soft blue blanket.
Lou Anne glanced at her in her rearview mirror.
“Are you okay?” she asked. “You are being awful quiet.”
Maybe she is regretting making this move Lou Anne thought. But it had to be done. Surely she realized that. The doctor had said that she was fit enough right now to make this trip, but her kidneys were deteriorating. Within the year they would no longer function and she was too old to be put on the transplant list. He thought she needed her family with her in these last days. She stepped on the accelerator ready to have the long trip behind her.
“Aunt Dorothy, are you sleeping?”
Dorothy smiled. “No, my dear. I am just enjoying the sight of these wonderful, beautiful stars! There are so many! It has been ten years since I have had the chance to see them. I really missed my beautiful stars. Thank you so much.”
Lou Anne choked back a sob as she looked back at her aunt.
“Where we are going you will get to see a million stars every night.”
Dorothy smiled and snuggled under her blanket. No regrets. She had made the right decision. Her last days would be filled with family, love and freedom.