by ABBIE JOHNSON TAYLOR
The moonlight revealed the woman on the other side of the road, her purse slung over her shoulder. Her silver hair gleamed in the headlights of an oncoming car. As I stepped behind a tree so she wouldn't see me, I remembered that she wouldn't recognize me because of her visual impairment.
The car slowed as it pulled to the side of the road. This was not good, I thought. If a stranger picked her up, I'd never catch up with her. I stepped out from behind the tree and started to cross the road.
“Grandma!” called a young woman, as she emerged from the vehicle. “Why are you walking around out here at night?” She hurried to where the old woman stood and embraced her.
“Shelley, is that you?” asked the grandmother.
“Of course it is,” answered the young woman. “Do you have another granddaughter somewhere I don't know about?”
“No,” said the old woman. “I'm just surprised to see you. That's all. I thought you were still in school.”
“I just finished my final exams this week,” said Shelley. “I called Pleasantview and told them to tell you I was coming. Didn't you get my message?”
“No,” answered her grandmother. “I don't need to be in a place like that. I have two perfectly good legs and two perfectly good arms. Just because I can't see doesn't mean I can't take care of myself. I can't believe I let your father persuade me to go there. I had one little fall. I broke my arm. Now, I'm healed.”
“Dad told me about the fall,” said Shelley. “He said you tripped on that cute little area rug in your dining room.”
“That was the stupidest thing I've ever done,” said her grandmother. That area rug has been there for years, and I knew it. That spill made me realize I need help, but I don't need to be in a nursing home.”
“Of course you don't,” said Shelley. “You remember me telling you about the camp where I work during the summer, don't you? It's for people who are visually impaired. They learn daily living and mobility skills to help them stay independent. They can even learn how to use a computer.”
“I remember,” said the old woman. “I want to learn how to take care of myself in my own home. If I could learn how to use one of those computers, we could e-mail back and forth every day. Wouldn't that be fun?”
“It would,” said Shelley. “Dad said that he, Uncle Ted, and Aunt Patty decided that it was best for you to be in the nursing home. Maybe the two of us can convince them otherwise. Shall we give it a try?”
“Why not,” said her grandmother.
“Do the folks at Pleasantview know you're out here?” asked Shelley.
“No, I decided to make my way home, that is if the house is still standing,” answered her grandmother. “I know it's crazy, me going off at night like this, but I just can't stand it there anymore. Don't get me wrong. It's a nice place. The food is good, and the folks are all polite. But it's not for me.”
“We'd better go back there and tell them you're safe,” said Shelley. “Then we'll take it from there.”
As Shelley helped her grandmother into the car, I was tempted to dash across the road and tell them there was no need to return to the facility. As an employee there, I would tell Mrs. Baker's nurse she was safe. But how would I explain my sudden appearance? What would they think if they knew I'd eavesdropped on their conversation? I stood in silence as the car drove away.