Changed some of the names. Written in '21.
It was 50 years ago this coming December my mom and dad got married in St Dominic's Church in Somerville. Fr Fratelli, who had baptised me in Italian or Latin, had learned a little English by then (I was two and a half). Dad took all the money that Mom and he had been given as wedding presents. My Nana was already fading by then, hugged Uncle Jay and thanked him for marrying Mom.
I remember being wheeled in a stroller down Magnolia Terrace, where Nana lived: the wee dead-end cut into the slant of the hill I want to call Loring. I remember the metallic footrest of the stroller, and the sun glinting against it. I couldn't hide my eyes from its tinny glare.
It was the day after my fifth birthday when Mom moved Nana into the Albert Woodbridge Nursing Home in reasonably nearby North Cambridge. I remember this because I was in a hallway staring at a piece of paper with the date 6/19/74. We'd visit Nana every Saturday, sometimes (before she got really sick) taking her out for a stroll. One time, we went to Verna's Donut Shop, where Tip O'Neill got his political start, where he traded news and bantered with the locals. One time when I was eight years old, Nana tugged at my sleeve and said "Tommy" amid the Alzheimer's-engendered gibberish. It was likely the last time she showed a sign of recognizing me.
I remember Nana and all the other residents of Woodbridge getting wee calendars for 1978, small rip-off white pages mounted on a cardboard base that could stand on their night-tables. Nana kept rubbing the four digits of the year and repeating, "1938 … 1938 …"
Mom always liked the male nurses. She thought the gay ones were the best, solicitous to Nana in her needs.
In '81, I think it was, the Woodbridge was forced to close. Nana was transferred to the much less convenient and much less handsomely appointed Fairhaven in Mission Hill. The staff was neglectful and even abusive.
Fortunately, it was in '82 or '83 that Nana was moved to her last nursing home, the beautiful St Catherine's in Brighton. There were priests and nuns and top-notch staff.
By this time, Nana had gotten quite bad, no voice, not even gibberish anymore, her body wrecked and ravaged.
The last time I joined Mom for a visit to Nana was July of '83. I was fourteen, Mom thirty-eight, Nana seventy-seven and only six months from death.
I couldn't look at my own grandmother. I stared out the window into the well-tended-to courtyard, and watched an amputee in a wheelchair bask on his patch of green in the summer sun.
Poetry by Uncle Meridian
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Written on 2023-08-08 at 23:27
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